Haliotis pustulata Reeve, 1846
Distribution: Red Sea to eastern Mediterranean, to Persian Gulf, to northeastern South Africa.
Seychelles, Madagascar. Réunion & Mauritius. Average 25-35mm. Shallow water to 20m.

From north to south. Mediterranean scout: 4-8m deep, under rocks, Haifa, Israel. 30mm.
The species remains uncommon in these northern waters.
1m deep, on rock, Sharm el Sheik, Janub Sina', Egypt. 32-32mm.
Sculpture, colours and patterns vary a lot.
Shallow water under stones, Eilat, Aqaba Gulf, Red Sea. 30-32mm.
Dorsal pustulations often exist, and give the name to the species.
They are placed on a mesh built with spiral lines and, sometimes, prosocline rays.
An odd specimen from Giftun island, off Hurghada, Al Bahr al Ahmar, Egypt. 34mm.
A features that remains quite constant is the "dotting", on ventral side, given by the dorsal pustules
in a spiral arrangement. This shell shows traces of helicoidal pattern near the spire.
A flat and lovely shell from a reef off Hurghada, Al Bahr al Ahmar, Egypt. 26mm, 1996.
This morph matches exactly the "Shield abalone", Haliotis ancile Reeve 1846, as it is pictured in
Abbott & Dance's Compendium. Nota bene that ancile is considered as a synonym of rubra Leach.
Abalone on fire. Under rocks and dead corals, at 1-2m deep, Marsa'Alam, Al Bahr al Ahmar, Egypt. 42mm.
Form cruenta Reeve, 1846. Sometimes considered as a subspecies, it is said to have a lighter shell,
and reddish colours. More occurences in Red Sea and Mediterranean. Shallow water, Jibuti. 27mm.
Two specimens from Tanzania. Zanzibar island, shallow water, on rocks. 36mm.
Four shells from Nacala Bay, Nampula, Mozambique. 34-41mm, 2006.
If specimen #1 on top is a true pustulata, what can be said about #4?
From top to bottom, shells become more rounded, lack their pustules and develop a sculpture made of folds,
cords and scales. Also, the anterior margin is not as straight as in pustulata.
Nevertheless, #4 is not a clathrata. So what?
A special "ancile x clathrata", 35mm long, from the same spot. Compare with specimens #3 & #4 above.
It often happens that shells labelled "H. varia" are offered from SE. Africa. Of course, there is no varia here.
Anatomical studies of abalones in Nampula could give us a better idea of the different species that live here.
This shell above is not a clathrata, it is not a varia, and certainly not a rugosa.
From the same spot, a shell of the same group. Shallow water, under stones, 42mm.
Rounder than average, with more orange than red.
Two shells from Tulear area, Madagascar. 40-42mm, 2005.
Southern shells have rougher sculpture, with more pronounced spiral cords, than Red Sea specimens.
By dive, Mahambo, Toamasina, Madagascar. Large, flat, rounded, red. 41mm.
A highly variable species. Tulear area, again. 33mm.
Young specimen, collected at 5-10m deep, Nacala bay, Nampula, Mozambique. 24mm.
Tulear area, Madagascar. 39mm.

All pics © Olivier Caro