There are 7 species of abalones on this coast.  They once were abundant but, owing to their large size, ease of collection from shallow waters, tastiness, and high market value, they have been largely overfished, some to levels bordering on extinction. Commercial fishing for abalone Haliotis kamtschatkana in British Columbia has been closed since 1992.  Abalone and related trochid snails are considered in this section, while other gastropods, such as moon snails, limpets, and littorines are considered in other sections of the ODYSSEY. Within a given subsectional topic, for example, nutrition & growth, abalones are dealt with first and then trochids.

NOTE  the English word “abalone” is derived from Sp. “aulon” or “aulone”, but it is not known what they were called in Britain before this adoption.  Another English word for abalone, originating in the Channel Islands, is “ormer”.  It is derived from the Fr. “oreille-de-mer”, meaning “sea ear”, in reference to the shape of the shell.  The genus Haliotis also means “sea ear” in Greek.

NOTE   gastropods may be the most familiar of all the invertebrates, not only because of their variety and “collectability” of their shells, but also because of the diversity of habitats in which they live.  They live in soil, on trees, and in lakes, streams, and ocean, and hence are commonly encountered by people. Also, many species are edible. Most are shelled, which largely explains their diversity of habitats, but others lack shells or have partial shells.  For these reasons, plus the fact that the central “character” in the story is a winkle, gastropods are well represented in the ODYSSEY.  Replication between the various groups, however, is minimal, and what is emphasised for each taxon is the features that make its members unique


To learn about west-coast ABALONES: select a topic from the abalone menu at the top of the page

OR: play the ANIMATION of the snail meeting the ABALONE

OR, if you want to see other animations: follow the snail on its ODYSSEY by CLICKING on any X-marked invertebrate on the map

2010 Thomas Carefoot

snail's map showing click-on images of invertebrates dealt with in the educational website A SNAIL'S ODYSSEY

Phylum Mollusca (lit. “soft” or “shellfish” L.)

Class Gastropoda (lit. “stomach foot” G.), referring to the body structure of viscera lying overtop of the muscular foot

SubClass Orthogastropoda (lit. “straight gastropod” G.), referring not to the shape of the shell but to aspects of their  phylogeny

         SuperOrder Vetigastropoda1

Family Haliotidea (lit. “sea” G.), including abalones (Haliotis)

Family Trochidae (lit. “wheel” G.), including top and turban shells such as Calliostoma, Chlorostoma2 (Tegula), Promartynia (Tegula), Lirularia3

Family Turbinidae (lit. "spinning top" L.), including top shells Pomaulax (Astraea) gibberosa


NOTE1   another SuperFamily of Vetigastropoda, the Fissurelloidea, including keyhole limpets Diodora, is considered elsewhere in the LEARNABOUT LIMPETS & RELATIVES

NOTE2   the handy past classification of 4 west-coast species into the genus Tegula has undergone a few changes, leading to confusion. There now appears to be 3 genera: Chlorostoma (auretincta, funebralis, brunnea, ligulata, and montereyi), Promartynia (pulligo), and Tegula.  References to these species in the ODYSSEY may sometimes include “Tegula” in brackets (e.g., Chlorostoma (Tegula) funebralis) and/or may just use the same name as used by the author(s)

NOTE3   the genus Margarites is now split into 2 new genera: Lirularia and Pupillaria

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