The abalone is a marine gastropod
), distinguished from other gastropods by its flat shell. There are many species
of abalone, but all feed on algae
and have the distinctive shell shape.
Their meat is supposed to be quite tasty and can be very expensive. Overfishing, pollution, and climate factors have decreased the population of wild abalone, which in North America are caught mainly off the coast of California. Many aquaculture businesses exist to meet the high demand for abalone meat, and farm-raised abalone is much less expensive than the wild variety.
Abalone shells are often used to make jewelry and other decorative items. Abalone pearls are much rarer than oyster pearls and are dark in color, resembling opals.