Black abalone, a mollusk once plentiful in California tidepools, will be listed as endangered starting next month. They were eliminated by overfishing and withering syndrome, a disease that shrunk the abalone’s foot and made it impossible for them to cling to the rocks.
The black abalone will be the fourth marine invertebrate listed as endangered. The other three are the white abalone and two species of Caribbean coral. Notably, all of these species are broadcast spawners – they release sperm and eggs into the water and hope they meet. When their populations are low enough, the sperm and eggs don’t meet, and it becomes very difficult for the population to recover.