This object is part of the Education and Outreach collection, some of which are in the Q?rius science education center and available to see.
Haliotis, or abalone, is the only genus of the family Haliotidae. Abalone are herbivorous, edible sea snails. Though they are distributed worldwide, the majority of abalone species live in cold water habitats. The inner layer of the shell is made of nacre (also called “mother-of pearl”), which is often iridescent. The foot muscle of the snail itself is edible. As a result, abalone have been utilized by many cultures for a variety of purposes over the centuries, including in jewelry, for decorative purposes, as a food source, and as shell money. Dr. Torben Rick's research of middens on the Channel Islands has revealed a steady decline in the size of red abalone shells, probably due to human predation. Overfishing is threatening the survival of the abalone family. Catalog number 30708 is a disk abalone (Haliotis discus), from Tanesashi, Japan.