Pinto abalone are three things: important, locally endangered, and very cute.
Historically plentiful throughout the Salish Sea, Pinto abalone were once the keepers of our kelp forests. They were a staple for indigenous communities and served as both a grazer and a food source for our Salish Sea ecosystem.
Their iridescent, cosmic shells are iconic and - if you look closely - you just might catch their bright eyes, right under that shell, looking back at you.
By now their story is familiar. From 1950 to the 1980s, Pinto abalone became a popular target for harvesters. By 1994, their population was so decimated that Washington State closed the fishery. Now, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has partnered with local organizations to reverse the Pinto population decline and give these abalone a much needed boost back from the brink.
Bringing back an endangered species takes a lot of time... and a little love. In this class we'll learn how marine scientists - with the help of Al Green and Marvin Gaye - breed adult abalone in hatcheries and raise their babies for over a year.
Then we’ll see how researchers use scuba and tons of TLC to release those juveniles into special spots around the San Juan Islands. Like good parents, we continue to monitor their health for years after their release. So this class will also give updates on how our precious protégés have been doing since their big debut in the wild.
The hard-work and passion of our Salish Sea-based scientists and community members like you have allowed us to make huge strides towards getting our Pinto abalone back on their “feet”… and off the state endangered species list. Come learn about how our state is leading the charge on abalone restoration!