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Haliotis rubra (Family Haliotidae)

Blacklip Abalone



The Blacklip Abalone ranges from New South Wales, around southern Australian shores including Victoria, Tasmania, and South Australia to southern Western Australia. (NSW, VIC, TAS, SA, WA)


The Blacklip Abalone has a large, flat, oval shaped shell with a greatly enlarged body whorl. It grows to a length of 100-125 mm, a height of 40 mm and a width of 75 mm. The shell is sculptured with weak growth ridges, over irregular oblique radiating folds. Around the edge of the shell is a row of conical tubercles, with 6 or 7 open for respiration. Between the tubercles and the outer edge is a concave region. Inside the shell are oblique wrinkles.

The Blacklip Abalone's shell colour is reddish-brown, with narrow, curved, radiating light green streaks. Inside the shell is brilliantly iridescent. The foot is extremely large, enabling it to clamp down onto the rock in heavy waves or when disturbed. Large specimens may have heavily eroded shells, or be covered by algae or sessile animals (Edgar).

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Blacklip Abalone occurs at and below low tide on rocky shores. You may find Blacklip Abalone occurring in clusters under rocks, in crevices, in caves, or on vertical rock faces. The Blacklip Abalone is an algae feeder.

Preferred Image

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

All over the world, different types of abalone are collected heavily by man for use as food. In Australia Blacklip Abalone, as well as Haliotis laevigata and Haliotis roei are collected commercially by divers. The Blacklip Abalone is the third most valuable fishery species in Australia. It generates a catch worth more than $100 million annually (Edgar, 1997). In some areas it is now hard to find Blacklip Abalone, even though it was once abundant. Commercial abalone boats must be licensed. In 1986 there were 125 commercial divers in Tasmanian waters (Bennett, 1987). This is a species where research is being conducted into commercial cultivation but there are great difficulties to overcome.

Other Comments:

Some other common names for this mollusc are Common Ear Shell, Mutton Fish, Red Ear Shell, Knotted Ear Shell and Paua in New Zealand.

Further Reading:

Bennett, I. (1987). W.J. Dakin's classic study: Australian Seashores. p. 271, Angus & Robertson.

Davey, K. (1988). A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p. 74, New Holland Press.

Edgar, G.J. (1997). Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. p. 227, Reed.

Macpherson, J.H. & Gabriel, C.J. (1962). Marine Molluscs of Victoria. p. 29, Melbourne Univ. Press.

Marine Research Group of Victoria. (1984). Coastal Invertebrates of Victoria: an atlas of selected species. p. 24, Museum of Victoria.

Shepherd, S.A. (1973) Studies on southern Australian abalone (genus Haliotis). I. Ecology of sympatric species. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research. 24, 217-257.

Shepherd, S.A. (1975) Distribution, habitat and feeding habits of abalone. Australian Fisheries. 34(1), 12-15.

Shepherd, S.A. & Thomas, I.M. (1989). Marine Invertebrates of Southern Australia. pt. II. p. 539, South Aust. Govt. Press.

Wells, F.E., & Bryce, C.W. (1988), Seashells of Western Australia. p. 33-4, Western Australian Museum.


Text, map & photograph by Keith Davey.

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Images and Multi-media:  
Attached Image  
image/jpeg 13637 bytes Blacklip Abalone
Distribution Map  
image/gif 1024 bytes Distribution of the Blacklip Abalone

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