West Coast
Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific is getting a fresh batch of white abalone, delivered via airplane by volunteers bringing them from northern Cal. Heather Burdick of The Bay Foundation displays White Abalone. (Photo by Chuck Bennett, Contributing Photographer)

CA - 11,000 baby abalone will be planted at a secret spot off the Southern California coast

These sea creatures are on quite the California adventure. The baby white abalone started their lives in the UC Davis Bodega Marine Lab in Northern California. This week they boarded a private plane for a trip south, where they’ll vacation in labs and aquariums, eating buffets of kelp and hanging out to grow just a bit more.

September 19, 2018

Later, once they are nice and plump they will be put out into the ocean at a super secret hideaway off the South Bay, where they can, hopefully, live happily ever after – growing and thriving and one day creating babies of their own to help the struggling species rebound.

“We worry about poaching, they are desirable,” said Heather Burdick, director of marine operations at The Bay Foundation’s satellite lab in San Pedro. “We just rather not have people know where they are and give them the best chance.”

The latest delivery this week of lab-grown abs, as they are casually called, is a collaboration with The Bay Foundation, the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach and NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in San Diego.

An estimated 11,000 baby abalone, a federal endangered species, were delivered by plane on Wednesday, Feb. 24, to airports in Torrance and San Diego, adding to about 900 delivered the previous Friday, and are now settling into their temporary new homes to grow.

It’s not the first delivery of abalone received locally for the project. In 2019, there were an estimated 1,650 brought down from Bodega Marine Lab, marking the first-ever attempt to release the federally protected species into the wild.

Last year, another 562 were brought down, but the coronavirus pandemic made it challenging to transport more of the specimens.

Typically, a duo would drive the 10 hours up the coast to get the abalone and bring the babies back down south.

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