Black lipped abalone

Black lipped abalone
Image: Tourism Tasmania
Community type

Benthic reefs organisms

Habitat type

Rocky reefs, kelp beds and inter-tidal zone

This native, large shelled mollusc lives on exposed reefs, attaching itself to hard surfaces with a large muscular foot. Abalone also have a head, a pair of eyes, tentacles, and a mouth but they are hard to see as they attach firmly to rocks and boulders of the reef. Using its file-like tongue, abalone scrape up algae and seaweed. The abalone relies on its impressively strong shell for protection from predators and storms. The shell also contains a series of holes, allowing water to move through so the abalone can breathe and expel its waste. Abalone has been food for Tasmanian Aboriginals for many thousands of years, as they have been found in shell middens along much of Tasmania’s shoreline. They are still an important food today, and Tasmania produces around 25% of the world’s abalone.It is not recommended that they be harvested from the Derwent estuary due to historical heavy metal contamination. Please see our seafood safety section for more information.

Much of the text within the species area of our website was written by Veronica Thorpe, as part of the Derwent River Wildlife Guide (2000).

The DEP has developed a variety of classroom and outdoor activities focused around the key estuary habitats of tidal wetlands, salt marshes and rocky reefs. These include classroom materials, online resources, interpretive walks, games and sensory experiences.