Let’s make one thing clear here.

Halitosis is when you have bad breath.

Haliotis, however, is the genus name of the northern abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana).

Don’t get it twisted.

Ok, now that we have that out of the way… this is the animal that Laurel J., curriculum programs coordinator at the Aquarium, picked to highlight as February’s Staff Pick of the Month.

“They remind me of California (my home state) and my love of the Pacific North American coast.”

Laurel says she grew up eating the abalone her free-diving uncle used to collect in northern California. Although it was a different species, Laurel says she gained a new appreciation of this “unique” animal after learning more about it in the Aquarium’s Barker Interactive Learning Lab (the Wet Lab) saying, “Now I appreciate seeing abalone alive more than how they taste.”

The northern abalone is included on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List as “endangered” because Laurel says it’s a slow-growing, late-maturing species that has been harvested faster than its population could reproduce.

“Unfortunately, the harvest and sale of northern abalone is still prolific on the black market. Through education programs like those at the Aquarium, we are hopeful people will have a better understanding of what they eat and where their seafood comes from.”

Find this snail-cousin in the Treasures of the BC Coast gallery. There are eight of them, all around 12 years old. All were hatchery-raised by Fisheries and Oceans Canada at the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo for research purposes.

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