Abalone gets endangered species status

January 13, 2009 4:21:53 PM PST
The federal government is giving endangered species protection to the black abalone, a Pacific Coast mollusk that is being pushed to extinction by overfishing, disease and changing ocean conditions.

The National Marine Fisheries Service on Tuesday listed the black abalone as an endangered species following a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity.

The black abalone was once one of the most common invertebrates on the Southern California coast and Channel Islands. But its population has declined steeply in most of its traditional habitat, which ranges from the Oregon border to Baja California.

The biggest threat to its existence is withering syndrome, a disease that becomes deadlier as ocean temperatures rise.