Many people have never eaten—or even heard of—red abalone, a species of sea snail that lives suctioned onto boulders and feeds on the lush kelp forests of Northern California. Abalone is a much-sought-after delicacy with a sweet, delicate flavor similar to a sea scallop, say those who’ve tried it.
“For people who think they don’t like fish…it’s amazing to see their eyes just sparkle when they take a bite and go ‘this is absolutely incredible,’” says Joe Cresalia, a recreational diver who lives just north of San Francisco. “And you know before they took the bite, they were almost afraid to take a bite.”
But as marine heat waves, ocean acidification, habitat loss, and overfishing shrink the red abalone fishery, the sweet