Can Captive Breeding Save the Endangered White Abalone?
White abalone was the first marine invertebrate to land on the endangered species list, thanks to years of reckless overfishing and breeding habits that require dense populations. Researchers believe the White abalone population is declining by about 14 percent each year. In the absence of a solution, the species would likely be doomed to extinction.
"We've got about 15 years," said Laura Rogers-Bennett, a Senior Biologist at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Lab who is one of many scientists working to bring them back. "It's a really short timeline. For many endangered species, you have a bit longer."
White abalone are a free-spawning species, meaning the sperm and eggs are released into the ocean. To have a chance at fertilization, the two must come into contact. Given the shrinking number of White abalone in the wild, this is an increasingly big challenge.
But there's hope: Through a captive-breeding program, the Bodega Marine Laboratory successfully spawned White abalone in 2013, and they plan to build on that success in the years to come. (The next spawning is planned for this spring).
It's a long and complex road, but it must be traveled to save the species. But how will they do it? Watch the videos below.