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Research Technical Report

A PDF version of this report is available here:

Bell and Ramondi 2020 (3.7MB)

Black Abalone Translocation Manual

Bell, C., and P. Raimondi (June 2020)

Report prepared for MBNMS, 76pp.

INTRODUCTION and BACKGROUND

In May 2017, a massive landslide occurred at Mud Creek in Big Sur, California that buried approximately 1500 meters of designated critical habitat for the black abalone (Haliotis cracherodii), which was listed in 2009 as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). At the time of the landslide, there were no historical data describing the abundance and distribution of black abalone at this location, due to its remoteness and difficult access. Through consultation with Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) staff members, it was determined that surveys should be conducted to identify the locations of black abalone (if present) and the quality of black abalone habitat.

In July 2017, once it was determined to be safe to access the intertidal habitat potentially impacted by the slide, a team of black abalone experts conducted surveys and found a large and healthy population of black abalone as well as some good quality habitat. Unfortunately, it was also determined that a large stretch of coastline directly adjacent to the slide (especially to the south, but also to the north) had already been impacted by sediment, and would likely continue to be impacted by sediment movement. For the next several months, biologists on site captured weekly photographs of the toe of the slide as well as stretches of coastline to the north and south, and shared updates on sediment movement with black abalone experts and resource agency staff.

By October 2017, it became clear that the large and healthy population of black abalone (primarily north of the slide) was in imminent danger of burial by ongoing influx of sediment eroded from the toe of the slide. This document describes, in a general way, the steps taken to rescue some of these black abalone.

OBJECTIVE

To create a document that could be used for future emergencies - both natural (such as landslides) and anthropogenic (such as oil spills) - that may potentially impact black abalone or their habitat. At the time of the Mud Creek Landslide, no such document existed, and it had been many years since black abalone translocations had occurred. This document is intended as a guide and reference for future emergency responses.