Haliotis kamtschatkana (pinto abalone) 2
Haliotis kamtschatkana (Jonas, 1845) - interior surface of a pinto abalone (public display, Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum, Sanibel Island, Florida, USA)
The gastropods (snails & slugs) are a group of molluscs that occupy marine, freshwater, and terrestrial environments. Most gastropods have a calcareous external shell (the snails). Some lack a shell completely, or have reduced internal shells (the slugs & sea slugs & pteropods). Most members of the Gastropoda are marine. Most marine snails are herbivores (algae grazers) or predators/carnivores.
The abalones are an odd group of gastropods that have a coiled, cap-shaped, aragonite shell with a curvilinear set of excurrent respiratory holes. Interior shell surfaces have intensely iridescent nacreous aragonite ("mother of pearl"). Abalones are hard substrate algae grazers.
From museum signage [typos and mis-spellings corrected]: "Abalones are gastropod molluscs that typically have a widely open shell with holes. The holes serve to expel water after it circulates through the animal during breathing. Some abalones have very elegant shapes and striking colors and their beauty is boosted by the presence of a colorful layer of mother-of-pearl lining the interior of the shell."
"There are about 75 species of abalone. These species live on submerged rocks along different continents and islands, usually in cold water areas The West Coast of the U.S. is rich in abalone species. Abalones attach themselves to the rocks using a powerful shell muscle. They are herbivores, grazing on seaweed, with help from a set of specialized teeth called a radula."
The pinto abalone shown above is part of the Oregonian Province: "The cool-water Oregonian Province along the Pacific Northwest Coast lies between the frigid Aleutian Province of Alaska and the warmer Southern Californian and Panamic Provinces. Because of harsh coastal conditions, most gastropods do not do well here. Bivalves at quieter depths predominate. The shells are fewer in kinds, lacking the bright colors, but occur in great numbers." [info. from museum signage]
Classification: Animalia, Mollusca, Gastropoda, Haliotidae
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