MEXICO - Between 2007 and 2011 off the coast of Mexico, high mortality of pink abalone (Haliotis corrugata) and green abalone (Haliotis fulgens) was reported. To understand and prevent such occurrences in the future, the Center for Biological Research of the Northwest (CIBNOR) designed and launched the first Early Detection Weather Contingencies System for abalone in Baja California.
Dr Salvador Lluch Cota, researcher on the Ecology Programme Fishery CIBNOR explained that the detection system emerged after a year and a half of research which worked on two main lines: first, the observation in the lab of how different changes in oxygen levels and seawater temperature affect abalone and data collection of real-time changes in open water on the Pacific coast of northwestern Mexico.
Besides the design of the model for early detection of contingencies, Dr Lluch placed special emphasis on research which understands how decreased oxygen in the seawater affects abalone. This phenomenon is called hypoxia, and occurs when oxygen levels dissolved in the water are less than 20 per cent.
"The results were very surprising because we expected that the abalone was a very sensitive species but found the abalone is quite resistant to changes in oxygen. The organism is highly resistant to both acute and chronic conditions," said Dr Lluch.
This progress is the result of a much larger research project in which three institutions joined forces to guide fishermen who were affected by the abalone mortality between 2007 and 2011.
"The work was completed in late 2013 and we have already had a meeting with the producers, where we present the integration of all project results and conclude that abalone aquaculture should be promoted in the North Pacific to decrease the vulnerability of the fisherman to these phenomena and to increase monitoring at sea as we design systems with buoys, sensors and laboratory models," Dr Lluch said.
TheFishSite News Desk