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Haliotis coccoradiata (Family Haliotidae)

Scarlet-rayed Abalone, Ear Shell


The Scarlet-rayed Abalone is endemic to eastern Australia. It ranges form Moreton Bay, southern Qld, through NSW and eastern Vic to northern Tas. (QLD, NSW, VIC, TAS)


The Scarlet-rayed Abalone has an elongate ear-shaped shell that is more narrow at the front. It is distinguished from other abalone by having a rather thin shell, with a low spire. The shell is flat on the dorsal or upper surface and it has rounded shoulders. The shell grows to 30-50 mm in length. The shell is sculptured with numerous irregular concentric ridges crossed by fine longitudinal striations. These crossed markings create a scale-like appearance. On the side of the shell there are three sharp spiral ridges with smooth interspaces. The rounded respiratory holes are very slightly raised, with 5-8 being open. Juveniles are difficult to distinguish from the Black-lipped Abalone, Haliotis rubra. The Scarlet-rayed Abalone can be distinguished by having sharp ribs immediately above the shell edge, while the Black-lipped Abalone has similar ribs that are roughly corded.

The shell exterior is variable in colour but the most common form is reddish-brown in colour with broad, irregular, radiating, curved, cream coloured rays. Its spire is pink. The closed respiratory are scarlet coloured. The shell interior is silvery, with a pink and green sheen. The animal itself is light green in colour, with darker markings.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Scarlet-rayed Abalone appears to be a common species at the lowest tide levels and below to 10 metres depth. It occurs under rocks and is an algae feeder. This species was studied by Talmadge, (1960) and he could not find any correlation between smoothness and roughness in form, or in dullness and brightness in colour, with the Scarlet-rayed Abalone's age or habitat preferences.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

The Scarlet-rayed Abalone has a very restricted distribution in south- eastern Australia. If a large-scale environmental disaster occurred along the NSW coastline, this species could be threatened.

Other Comments:

Haliotis coccoradiata, Reeve, 1846. Haliotis comes from two Greek words; hals for the sea or salt, and otos meaning the ear. Coccoradiata comes from two Latin words coccinius or coccum for cochineal, a bright red colour, and radiata from radiatus, meaning rayed.

Further Reading:

Davey, K. (1998) A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p.74, New Holland Press, Sydney.

Edgar, G.J. (1997). Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. p.230, Reed.

Jansen, P. (2000), Seashells of South-East Australia. p.12, Capricornia Publications. Macpherson, J. H. & Gabriel, C. J. (1962). Marine Molluscs of Victoria. p.27, Melbourne University Press.


Text, map & photograph by Keith Davey.

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