Haliotis tuberculata Linnaeus, 1758
Atlantic groups
Distribution: Channel islands to Gibraltar strait, to NW. Africa.
Subtidal to 40m deep, often on coasts exposed to waves.
Bigger (to 120mm) and heavier in the north.

Above and below: shells in natural condition.
Collected at extreme low tide, in crevice on offshore reef near Saint-Malo, northern Brittany. 103mm.
H. testa subovata, rugis transversis tuberculatis. Habitat in O. Europaeo.
(Linnaeus, Systema Naturae, Vermes / Testacea / Haliotis / #648 p.780). 114mm.
Gerontic specimens (115-117mm).
By dive at 15m, bay of Saint-Brieuc, northern Brittany.
Set of 3 specimens fished by dive near Saint Brieuc, Côtes d'Armor, N. Brittany, France.
Average specimens of good size, in natural conditions.
Displayed with the authentification-markings from fisheries dept. 98-104mm.
Two beachstormed abalones, Groix island, southern Brittany. 43-62mm.

From English Channel to W. Sahara

One can divide the range in 3 areas, each one having its own panel of features.

In west Europa, the ormers are the biggest, and are commercially fished.
Potato-shaped, flat, thick, heavy, large, with a silver nacre, and a wide range of colours & patterns.
Dorsum smooth to lightly folded. This is the Linnean morph.

In Mediterranean, the ormers are those described by Lamarck: ear shaped, flat, thin, light, small,
with a nacre varying from silver to bluish, a dorsum often strongly folded, and the hugest range
of colours and patterns. These shells can be true Arlecchinoes.

Alboran sea and adjacent waters, especially in the Cadiz-Gibraltar area,
offer interesting intergrades:
shells are smaller than Atlantic specimens, but bigger than in Mediterranean.
They are often folded, but their colours are typically Atlantic;
their red, for example, is definitively not Mediterranean.

In northwest Africa, the ormers are, again, a bit like the Linnean shells, with tiny differences:
potato-shaped, but thin, light, medium sized, with a somewhat greenish to blueish nacre,
and a dorsum not so sculptured. Colours and patterns variable. (Af).

Unknown ecological parameters determine these variations, and allow the existence of strange populations:
Poppe & Goto report Med-looking shells in northern Spain, and atlantic shapes in Italy.
Ref: European seashells, vol.1, p.64-65.
Western european form:
3 specimens from the Channel islands, 102-114mm. Notice the little variability of the sculpture.
Beautiful intertidal specimen from Jersey, Channel Islands. 107mm.
Original picture © R. Kershaw.
Dark specimens. Shades of green and purple. 100-108mm, Brittany.
Red specimens from deeper water. 93-100mm, Saint-Brieuc area, N. Brittany.
Same coast, same dives. 110-117mm.
2 banded shells from Mt. Saint-Michel Bay. 107-111mm.
A last northern specimen from Guernsey, Channel islands. 116mm.
Atlantic spanish specimen, harvested for consumption. 87mm.
Original picture © R. Kershaw.
Atlantic Morocco:
Above and below: 1m deep, under rocks. Casablanca coast, W. Morocco. 53-72mm.
Variations affect sculpture and colours. These two shells are lightweight, thin and delicate like
mediterranean specimens. But they are larger. This young one is actually pink!
Older, heavier, larger than the preceeding pair, this one shows a sculpture that
mediterranean abalones never have. South of Casablanca, 1-2m deep, under rocks. 83mm.
An elongate specimen from Agadir, Souss-Massa-Drâa, fished at low tide, at 1m deep, under stone.
70mm, october 2007. Confusion with H. marmorata (two circles at right) is impossible.
In the far south. 1m deep, under rocks at low tide, Tarfaya, Tan Tan province,
Laâyoune-Boujdour-Sakia El Hamra, at the frontier with the Western Sahara.
43,5-56mm, april 2008.
Same spot. 36-41mm. Purple shells!
Fascinating! A pure lamellosa. Label says: "Almadies, Dakar, Senegal".
Fished on stones at extreme low tide. 36,5mm. 1985.

All pics © Olivier Caro