What is Abalone?
Abalone are large sea mollusks (snails) that inhabit colder waters all over the world. Abalone eat seaweed such as kelp. The different varieties it eats creates the different colors in the shells as they grow. Each layer contains calcium carbonate making the shell extremely strong. The outside of these ear-shaped shells is often a host for barnacles algae and other invertebrates. The shells have holes in them which are respiratory openings for venting water from the gills. As the animal gets older the shell grows with them in a spiral pattern and the holes close up. Abalones can repair minor damage to their shells done by otters or humans trying to remove them from rocks, because of this they are a symbol of strength and healing.
Shells of the Abalone have been found in archeological sites worldwide dating back over 100,000 years. The animal was an important food source and the highly iridescent inner side of the shells were used in decorative items, fishing hooks and even as currency in some communities. In order to capture the abalone, people would have to dive into these cold and dangerous waters. The suction strength of the abalone is great and men and women would have to hold their breath for several minutes in order to pry them off the rocks. Capturing an abalone was a right of passage for some communities. Farming of abalone began in the 1950s and 1960s.
How are Abalone Shells Used?
The beautiful inner side of abalone shells are iridescent color. You will find pink, purple, green and blue hues. The abalone shell is an organic gem. It is also known as Mother-of-Pearl as well as Haliotis Iris, Paua Shells, Nacre, Aulon, and Sea ear just to name a few. You can find abalone jewelry, abalone buttons, abalone inlay in artwork, furniture and musical instruments. The whole shell is also used to hold burning sage during smudging ceremonies. Read More About How To Smudge
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