The Required Environment
Excellent abalone can only be cultivated in a clean and healthy environment. The impact created by the flow of the sea influences the texture of the meat. The sea quality, water temperature and the type of available food determines the growing speed, the taste, and the colour. Therefore, abalone from different seas and countries vary greatly in taste, quality, and appearance.
Abalone likes to live in a rocky area close to shore where the water is clear, moving and with a rich source of seaweed. These areas provide maximum food and also maximum protection for the abalone from its natural predators. Different species have the ability to survive at different depths. Most abalone prefer cold waters so they can be found in shallow reef areas just below the waters edge down to as deeps as 400 metres. Abalone cannot survive in a place where sea water is mingled with fresh water, or where the water is dirty.
The Growing Process
There are four to nine holes on the shell surface of the abalone, parallel and protruding from the rounded edge. They function as passages for breathing, excreting and for reproduction. The antennas of the abalone come in contact with the outside world by sticking out from underneath the cover of the shell. During spawning, both male and female abalone discharge eggs and the semen into the seawater, where they mix and fertilise. Within ten days, the infact abalone is formed. After three years, the young abalone can grow up to 10 centimetres in length. The infact abalone depends first on the egg yolk, then it can take in a Uni-cell algae and organic cells. The intake increases but it won’t take seaweed until it matures as an adult. It takes up to 8 years for an abalone to be fully developed.
The disproportion in the limited supply and large demand leads to the high price, with the quota of Abalone allowed to be caught each year in Australia heavily restricted to ensure this delicacy is sustainably preserved for the future.