Pinto Abalone Recovery

Pinto abalone are considered functionally extinct in Washington waters. Natural populations have plummeted and there are too few left in the wild to reproduce successfully. We have reached the point where recovery is not likely without human intervention. It is still possible for us to keep an iconic and treasured species from blinking out—on our watch. Our goal at PSRF: to rebuild sustainable populations of the Salish Sea’s only native abalone—the mighty Haliotis kamtschatkana—so that, once again, pinto abalone can graze our subtidal waters and successfully reproduce in the wild.

In 2013, the National Marine Fisheries Service, a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) received two separate petitions to list pinto abalone under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and designate critical habitat to support pinto abalone recovery. NOAA is conducting a 12-month status review to determine how pinto abalone may receive protection under the ESA. Puget Sound Restoration Fund is an essential part of a cross-disciplinary team in Washington State that has been working since 2003 to develop recovery strategies that include a conservation aquaculture program supporting juvenile and larval abalone outplant efforts in Washington State.

View our Recovery Plan for Pinto Abalone in Washington State, a comprehensive and collaborative document that includes information on the biology, ecology and decline of the species followed by a detailed outline of research and recovery needs and current restoration strategies already underway.

Check out the Federal Register announcement of NOAA’s abalone petition findings.



Pinto Abalone Recovery
Puget Sound Restoration Fund

This 30-minute documentary showcases aspects of abalone restoration in Washington State from spawning adult brood animals, to tending juveniles during months of grow-out, to careful reintroduction of nearly 1200 abalone into the wild in 2009. It’s a big undertaking involving conservation genetics, state-of-the-art hatchery rearing techniques and much collaboration between scientists, resource managers, Tribes and community groups.

 

Abalone Restoration - Outplanting in March, 2011
Puget Sound Restoration Fund

The Pinto abalone is federally listed as a “Species of Concern” throughout its range along the Pacific Coast. Efforts are underway amongst a collaboration of partners including PSRF, WDFW, UW, NOAA, WWU and others to help restore sustainable populations. This short film from the NOAA videography team documents outplanting efforts in March, 2011 during which more than 2000 abalone were released onto rocky reef habitat at six recovery sites in the San Juan Islands.


Pinto Abalone Recovery
Puget Sound Restoration Fund

Hatchery cultured abalone larvae, 7 days old and smaller than a grain of sand, are ready to stop swimming and settle out of the water column onto aquarium tank surfaces where they will begin their journey of crawling, grazing and growing towards adulthood in the wild.

 

Pinto Abalone Recovery
Puget Sound Restoration Fund

A post-larval abalone, only three weeks old and less than 1 mm in length, is actively feeding on benthic diatoms and has clearly developed eye spots, tentacles, rasping mouth parts called a radula and new shell growth. It is starting to look like an abalone.

 

Pinto Abalone Recovery
Puget Sound Restoration Fund

A male Pinto abalone is induced to spawn, releasing sperm which is collected and used to fertilize eggs in carefully determined hatchery matings.

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PSRF is investigating larval seeding as a restoration strategy for Pinto abalone in Washington waters. Initiated with funding from the Department of Natural Resources, the PSRF Dive Team outplanted nearly 1.5 million genetically diverse larvae in December 2012 and August 2013 along Cypress Island shorelines in the San Juan Archipelago. Partners included WDFW, NOAA, Shannon Point Marine Center and UW.

 

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  • Puget Sound Restoration Fund
  • Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife
  • University of Washington, School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences
  • Western Washington University, Shannon Point Marine Center
  • NOAA Mukilteo Research Station
  • Baywater, Inc.
  • SeaDoc Society
  • Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe
  • Suquamish Tribe
  • Elwha Tribe
  • Northwest Straits Commission
  • Port Townsend Marine Science Center
  • Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife
  • NOAA Species of Concern Program
  • Washington Department of Natural Resources
  • Washington SeaGrant
  • SeaDoc Society
  • The Russell Family Foundation
  • Shell Puget Sound Refinery