Thursday, October 17, 2013

PTMSC Abalone ½ way house; Citizen Science fueling restoration of the Salish Sea

Hi I am Annie and I love abalone! I am a new Americorps Member at PTMSC, focusing on Citizen Science.  Two summers ago, I helped out with an abalone restoration project doing surveys which were monitoring the restoration efforts on out plant sites in the San Juan Islands.  I am so excited to be at PTMSC and working with abalone again!

Here is some info about the story of abalone in WA State:
Haliotis kamtschatkana or the Pinto Abalone is a marine gastropod of the Salish Sea. Starting in the early 1900s, Abalone were overfished in Washington State by sport fisherman.  In 1994 it was recognized that the abalone population had seriously declined and the fishery was closed. The naturally remaining Abalone in the Salish Sea are old, consequently big, and most likely too far away from other abalone to reproduce. Abalone are broadcast spawners which makes reproduction difficult when individuals are far apart and low in numbers.
Puget Sound Restoration Fund (PSRF) is a group powering marine restoration projects in the Salish Sea. The goal for the abalone restoration project is to reintroduce abalone into aggregations with densities high enough for successful broadcast spawning. Our planting efforts started in 2009 when thousands of juvenile abalone were replaced at permanent sub tidal outplants sites around the Salish Sea. Last December, PSRF tried a new restoration technique releasing 400,000 additional larval abalone.

What is the role of PTMSC in abalone restoration?
PTMSC is raising over 200 juvenile Abalone for future abalone restoration efforts.  Every week volunteers feed, measure and weigh the tagged individuals to get information on growth rates.


Abalone are a little tricky to handle because they are excellent at sticking to surfaces and move surprisingly quick. Volunteers have been using diligence and team work to get measurements on these sneaky invertebrates.

Volunteers have learned that that Pycnopodia helianthoides or Sunflower sea star is a valuable tool for abalone wrangling.  When Abalone come across the chemical cue of a sunflower sea star they pick up and move quickly allowing an easy snatch.
Thank you to our talented and committed Citizen Scientists for all their help on this project.

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