Identifying California Abalone, Haliotis spp.                                            | back to spp. list | kelp forest index | rocky shore index | SeaNet Home |

  Monterey Region Southern California

H. rufescens

H. walallensis

H. kamtschatkana

H. cracherodii

H. assimilis

H. fulgens

H. corrugata

H. sorensoni

Common name

red abalone

flat abalone

pinto abalone

black abalone

threaded ab

green abalone

pink abalone

white abalone


OR to Baja

BC to San Diego

AK to Monterey

cent. OR  to Baja

SLO to Baja

Pt. Cncptn to Baja

Pt. Cncptn Baja

Pt Cncptn to Baja

Shell shape, exterior sculpture

oval; texture wavy, lumpy

flat & narrow; rounded spiral ribs w. smaller  axial cross striations; indistinct shallow groove betwn holes & outer edge of shell

oval, texture wavy, lumpy; texture mirrored on interior; distinct broad  groove betwn holes & outer edge of shell

oval; smooth

oval; widely spaced spiral ribs, interspersed w. finer ribs

oval; corded w. coarse spiral ribbing

~circular; irregular  corrugations

oval; regular low spiral ribbing

Shell exterior, color

dull brick red

brick red w. white, blue, green mottling

green-brown  mottled w. scattered white & blue

dark blue to black

mottled green w. red, white brown spots

olive green to reddish-brown

dull green to reddish-brown

reddish brown

Shell margin

inside rim often red, especially in larger shells

thin, inside rim red in larger shells

narrow, mottled, scalloped

smooth, blue or black

thin, mottled green, red, blue

sharp, brown

sharply scalloped; mottled

sharp, red

Interior shell color

dull iridescent  green with pink

iridescent purplish-pink

iridescent pearly

iridescent pearly white

iridescent pearly white

iridescent green & blue

iridescent pink

pearly white & pink

Muscle scar

green contour lines parallel to shell sculpture with fine scribble lines in center running parallel to holes





wavy contour lines w. green & blue iridescence

wavy contour lines w. pinkish iridescence


Open holes

3-4; oval, slightly tubular

4-8; oval, raised

3-6; oval, raised

5-9; small round, flush

3-6; oval, slightly raised

5-7; small round, slightly raised

2-4; round, highly elevated

3-5; oval, highly elevated


tentacles black; epipodium smoothly scalloped w. alternating black & white bands

tentacles & epipodium yellow-green; lacy, rough margin

tentacles green- brown; epipodium mottled green-brown; lacy rough margin

tentacles & epipodium black; margin lobed & smooth

tentacles & epipodium brownish-yellow; w. lacy rough margin

tentacles olive green; epipodium olive green to light brown w. lacy margin

tentacles black; epipodium white or cream w. lacy margin

tentacles yellow green; epipodium beige w. lacy margin

 AK= Alaska; OR = Oregon; BC = British Columbia; SLO = San Luis Obispo; Pt Cncptn = Point Conception (west of Santa Barbara)

Carlton, J.T., ed. 2007. The Light and Smith manual.  Univ. California Press, Berkeley CA.
Haaker, P.L., K.C. Henderson, and D.O. Parker. 1986. California abalone. Calif. Dept. Fish and Game.
Leighton, D.L. 2000. The biology and culture of the California abalone. Dorrance Publ. Co, Pittsburgh, PA.

Page created by J.M. Watanabe
All images copyright James Watanabe unless otherwise indicated
Contact:  watanabe_at_stanford_dot_edu                                                                                                                                   Last  update: 10 October 2009