California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Abalone Identification Guide

Abalone Species Number of Open Holes Shape & Structure of Holes Color of Shell Exterior Shell Sculpture Shell Margin Color of Body Color of Tentacles
Red 3-4 oval, slightly tubular dull brick-red lumpy undulating red rim black black
Pink 2-4 round, highly elevated dull green to reddish brown irregular corrugated mottled, sharp scalloped black black
Black 5-9 round, small flush with shell dark blue to black smooth blue or black smooth black black
Green 5-7 round, small slightly raised olive green to reddish brown regular with coarse spiral ribbing brownish, sharp olive green to light brown olive green
White 3-5 oval highly elevated reddish brown regular with low spiral ribbing red, sharp yellowish tan traces of orange yellowish green
Pinto 3-6 oval raised mottled greenish brown with scattered white & blue lumpy exterior reflected on interior by hollows, pits, etc. narrow, mottled, scalloped mottled greenish tan or brown greenish brown
Threaded 3-6 oval slightly raised mottled greenish with red- white or brownish spotting wide separated prominent spiral ribs interspaced with numerous fine ribs thin mottled greenish, red-blue yellowish cream & brown brownish-yellow
Flat 4-8 oval raised brick red with white blue & green mottlings numerous evenly rounded spiral ribs crossed by thin raised striations thin, red yellowish green mottled yellowish green

Abalone Species Area between Tentacles Muscle Scar Characteristics of Muscle Scar Interior of Shell Major Iridescence
Red lobed, smooth prominent straight green lines at sides & front edge dull green
Pink white lace-like edge prominent wavy bands & clusters of closely spaced flow lines with pinkish iridescence pink
Black lobed, smooth absent - pearly white
Green green lace-like edge prominent same as for pink with green & blue iridescence green & blue
White beige lace-like edge absent - pearly white & pink
Pinto lace-like edge, greenish brown, rough absent - pearly white
Threaded lace-like edge, yellowish brown, roughened absent - pearly white
Flat lace-like edge, yellow-green roughened absent - purplish pink