My Abalone Has a First Name….

it’s O-S-C-A-R….

And yes, if my abalone had a second name it would be M-A-Y-E-R.

(As if you needed further proof that I operate on roughly a second-grade level.)

Oscar is a baby abalone (Haliotis sp.). Based on his size (about 1.5″ in length) I’m guessing he’s just over one year old. Like most abalones, he’s largely nocturnal – which means good photos of Oscar will be few and far between.

For scale, here’s a picture of Oscar during the acclimatization process. The snails around him range in size from 1/2″ to 3/4″ in size.

(The coloring you see in the other photos is closer to accurate – the yellow light in the kitchen makes him look overly brown in this one.)

Unlike many other molluscs, abalones are dioecious, meaning they’re not hermaphroditic but rather male or female. I’m not 100% certain that our Oscar isn’t an Oscarina, but (s)he’s staying “Oscar” regardless of the way that discovery goes.

Oscar isn’t a protected or edible variety of abalone. They’re rare in the aquarium trade, and mostly seen in established reef tanks with plenty of algae to graze on (he’s herbivorous and peaceful by nature). They don’t do well in the presence of predatory fish or crustaceans. Oscar has a shell, but he can’t withdraw into it completely like other molluscs. They depend on camouflage and finding places to hide in the rocks during daylight hours.

And he’s very good at camouflage. I’ve “lost” him twice since Saturday. He creeps into the reef and sits very still until the lights go out, at which point he heads off to forage. I do have one last picture of him, however, taken just after I introduced him to the reef. (I’ve added a pink arrow to help you find him.)

Have you ever seen a live abalone, in a reef or in the ocean? Do you think they’re interesting pets or do you share certain family members’ opinion that they look like they belong in a Kleenex rather than a fishtank? Hop into the comments and let me know!

9 thoughts on “My Abalone Has a First Name….

    • September 4, 2012 at 11:46 am

      Thanks Linda. It elicited groans from my family, but also some laughter. Oscar himself seems ambivalent to anything but algae.

  • September 4, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Oh! He’s so much prettier than the picture you sent me. I like him better now. ūüôā

  • September 9, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    He looks like a little furry eclair! Very cute though.

    • September 12, 2012 at 9:49 am

      Hi Wynd! You know, I hadn’t thought of him that way but he DOES look like a furry eclair! That’s actually a great description!!

      Heard you’re playing GuildWars – are you liking it? Michael is playing it but I’m afraid I’m still in WoW, hanging in there with the old geezers.

  • September 10, 2012 at 1:54 am

    Hi Susan,

    Unfortunately, I have only seen the iridescent abalone shells wash ashore. Recently, I penned a poem about seahorses and you purchase a pet abalone named Oscar? ūüėČ Do you think you will ever purchase a Nautilus? Here’s a tiny poem~
    Glass Corral

    horses in a small sea

    no hay
    no saddle
    no stable

    graze in the reef

    • September 12, 2012 at 9:48 am

      I like your poem Sandy! It captures the feel of them exactly. They do seem to graze in the reef, as they look around for food. They’re always looking, even if it’s not feeding time. Thanks for sharing the poem!!

      Unfortunately, my tank isn’t large enough for nautilus. They are amazing creatures though. I love watching them at the aquarium. They look very intelligent, like octopus and squid. Maybe it’s the big eyes?

  • September 10, 2012 at 10:13 am

    I am a organizer of Gold Country Writers, based in Auburn California. We are a group of published writers, and those aspiring. We also include poets, and storytelliers. om
    Some of our members have mentioned your name several times as a source of information concerning the legal ramifications of publishing in the mirade of vechicles available to people wishing to venture down that path.
    I am inquiring as to whether you might be interested in making a presentation to our group in the near future. We understand that you have done so in the Sacramento, Roseville area. If something can be arrnaged, please let me know, and also inform me of fees that may be necessary.
    Hope you will respond to this brief introduction and we can come to an agreement.

    Louis Borelli

    • September 12, 2012 at 9:50 am

      Hi Louis! I sent you an email and hope we can work out a time that works for both of us. I’m looking forward to talking with you!

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