Tag Archives: mollusks

Moving Turtles and Other Wildlife Due to Drought

Red-eared Slider - Trachemys scripta (CDFW photo by Dave Feliz)

Red-eared Slider – Trachemys scripta (CDFW photo by Dave Feliz)

Question: I live in San Luis Obispo and have a quick question regarding relocating three baby turtles. My wife and I have visited this small pond for quite some time, and due to the drought we are afraid that the turtles will die due to the pond getting smaller and smaller. We know that the California turtle is in danger to become extinct due to the red-eared turtle influx here in California. I need to know if I need a permit to move them off of state land. (Kevin M., SLO)

Answer: While it’s natural to want to help, moving animals is not only illegal, it is potentially detrimental, and your good intentions could have very bad consequences. According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Statewide Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Coordinator Laura Patterson, many animals, including some turtles, have a natural homing instinct and will not stay where they are transplanted. They may be carrying diseases or parasites that could impact the animals at the release site.

In addition, transplanted animals may be genetically different, and interbreeding with the existing population could produce offspring less adapted to local conditions. At the very least we know that in times like these with very limited resources, they will now compete with the animals already existing at the site, resulting in even worse overcrowding and potentially lowering survival and reproductive success even more than would have happened from the drought conditions.

By law you can take only non-native turtles with a California sport fishing license (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 5.6), but release into the wild or relocation of an animal (native or non-native) requires a permit from CDFW. In the case of aquatic turtles, the law says it is unlawful to place, plant or cause to be placed or planted, in any of the waters of this state, any live fish, any fresh or salt water animal, or any aquatic plant, whether taken without or within the state, without first submitting it for inspection to, and securing the written permission of, the department (Fish and Game Code, section 6400).

The situation you describe is very unfortunate, but all of California is experiencing a severe to exceptional drought, and many ponds and creeks have already gone dry or are expected to dry by summer’s end throughout the state. This is affecting the state’s wildlife, including many native species that are listed as endangered or threatened under state or federal law.


Abalone and scuba gear?
Question: If I’m out spearfishing with scuba gear, can I leave the scuba gear in the boat to also free dive for abalone? (Anonymous)

Answer: No. Sport divers are prohibited from using scuba or other surface-supplied air equipment to take abalone, and they cannot possess abalone on board any boat, vessel, or floating device in the water containing scuba or surface-supplied air. There is no problem transporting abalone and scuba gear together while on land. Divers working from boats, kayaks, float tubes or other floating devices who wish to use scuba equipment to spear fish or harvest sea urchins, rock scallops or crabs of the genus Cancer, will need to make a separate trip for abalone.


Shooting across a public road with a bow and arrow?
Question: The law says that you cannot shoot across a public road with a firearm or hunt within 150 yards of another home or building without permission, but what about archery? What about target shooting with archery? If there is no law in your community, or unincorporated area of a county that prohibits or limits use of archery, and you want to shoot archery for target practice, does the same distance law apply? (James S.)

Answer: The same rules for firearms apply to archery equipment in this case – you may not shoot across a road or within 150 yards of a neighbor’s home, barns or outbuildings – even if just target shooting (Fish and Game Code, section 3004). In addition to shooting across a roadway, this section also makes it unlawful for any person to intentionally release any arrow or crossbow bolt over or across any public roadway open to the public in an unsafe manner. Beyond this, different counties and communities may have more restrictive ordinances that they enforce so you should check with your local law enforcement office for this information.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

Why No Abalone Diving/Picking Before 8:00 a.m.?

Abalone free diver (Photo by Ken Bailey)

Abalone free diver (Photo by Ken Bailey)

Question: Why are abalone divers and pickers now required to wait until 8:00 a.m. to begin? Can divers still go spear fishing at the normal legal start time or take early morning photos, then switch over to abalone diving at 8 a.m.? (Anonymous)

Answer: The new 8:00 a.m. start time is an abalone conservation measure. It reduces the number of low-tide days people will be able to take abalone by rock picking (searching amongst rocks for abalone at low tide). During the spring, many low tides occur much earlier than 8:00 a.m.

This regulation change originated from the concerns of wardens who were witnessing large numbers of fishermen coming each and every low tide and taking large numbers of abalone. In addition to all the legal-sized abalone being taken, people were removing numerous undersized abalone while trying to find legal ones. Because undersized abalone often do not survive being removed and returned, they are likely to die. Thus, the impact on the fishery when this happens is probably much greater than the estimated legal catch (over 200,000 abalone annually in recent years).

Some people were also using the dim light before dawn to hide illegal activities. Wardens believe the later start time will aid them in enforcing regulations by moving early morning abalone fishing activities to hours with better daylight. The effect of the new start time on total catch is uncertain because people could shift to later hours or the days with low tides after 8:00 A.M. Although there may be a reduction in overall take based on the 8:00 A.M. start time, the increased enforcement benefit is clearly going to assist with compliance of the regulations. Once the data from the change has been analyzed, CDFW will be able to evaluate what the overall benefit to the abalone resource was.

Divers wanting to go out before 8 a.m. to spearfish or do underwater photography can do this as long as they don’t have the means of taking abalone or are searching for abalone before the official state time. If their activities appear to a warden to be taking or searching for abalone before 8 a.m., then they can be cited.

Abalone pickers

Wildlife Officers watch from the bluffs for violations by abalone divers and pickers (Photos by K. Joe)


How to stop people who are not obeying the rules?
Question: I was watching two boys catch a lot of trout (at least 40) and they were handling these fish after landing them in the dirt. They would pick and choose which ones to keep and throw back the small ones, most of which soon died. I was appalled by their lack of respect and sportsmanship, and when I approached their father his reply was, “Who are you to say how many we have? We don’t have a full basket!” The last time I needed to call law enforcement to this county park they couldn’t find the park until after the offenders had left. How can we stop these types of people from ruining the opportunities for others? (Gerry)

Answer: The best thing you can do is to record as much information about the location, situation and descriptions of people and the vehicle(s) they are driving (including make, model, color and license plate number). Provide all of this information at your earliest convenience to our CalTIP hotline at 1-888-334-CalTIP(2258). Leave a message if need be, with contact information, and a warden will receive this information. If officers are in the area when you call, they will come. If they are not able to arrive in time to catch the people who are breaking the laws, they will be aware of the situation and looking for the offenders the next time around.


Problems with crows and ravens – depredation permit an option?
Question: Why is there such a limited season on hunting crows? I suspect they are covered under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, but they are a nuisance species. I run into a number of landowners who have problems with crows with regards to crop damage, etc. Many of these landowners say that based on size, they also have ravens which are also damaging. I know there is a crow hunting season, but what about ravens? I also know “corvids” are very problematic predators for song birds and marbled murrelets on the coast. Can landowners get a depredation permit for either species, and if so, where? (Patrick R., Santa Rosa)

Answer: You just missed the hunting season for American crows, which runs from Dec. 7 through April 9. Ravens cannot be hunted. The regulations allow for landowners to destroy (shoot) crows that are damaging farm fields or other crops (CCR Title 14, section 472(d)).


Lifetime license holder moves out of state
Question: If, while a California resident, I purchase either a lifetime fishing or hunting license, will that license still be valid if I subsequently establish residency in another state? (Greg L., Mission Viejo)

Answer: Yes. You must be a resident to purchase the license, but after it is purchased, it will be valid for use in California for the rest of your life, regardless of where you reside.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

Collecting Marine Invertebrates for a Home Aquarium?

Octopus with shrimp peering out from inside a reef at Anacapa Island (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Octopus with shrimp peering out from inside a reef at Anacapa Island (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Question: What are the explicit regulations concerning the collection of live marine organisms for use in a personal marine aquarium? I am interested in collecting octopus. From what I understand, live fish are not to be taken under any circumstances. But it seems that some other organisms are allowed as long as they do not come from a protected area. I am a marine biology student who wants to have a simple native “tide pool type” of aquarium for my own personal delight. I do have a California sport fishing license. (Cristiana A.)

Answer: Octopus may be collected for a home aquarium and transported live under the authority of a sport fishing license as long as they are exclusively for that person’s personal aquarium display. Maintaining live sport-taken octopus in a home aquarium is not considered public “display” and thus does not fall under the provisions of the marine aquaria pet trade (Fish and Game Code, sections 8596-8597). Transporting live “finfish” (as opposed to mollusks and crustaceans) is prohibited (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.62).

Invertebrates collected under the authority of a sport fishing license may not be used to establish breeding colonies for sale or trade with other people. Any trading, selling or possession for sale or trade of these animals constitutes commercial marine aquaria pet trade activity and requires all parties to hold “marine aquaria collectors permits” authorizing this practice. A marine collector’s permit is also required for any animals on display for the public.

People collecting live marine invertebrates for a home aquarium may do so only under the authority of a sport fishing license, and only those species allowed under a sport fishing license may be taken. In addition, any species with sport fishing restrictions (e.g. bag, size, possession, season limits, methods of take, etc.) are still covered under those regulations, and so collectors must also abide by these laws.


Number of rods to land last fish?
Question: When legally fishing with two rods and you are one fish shy of your limit, can you still fish with two rods or do you need to cut back to just one for the final fish to fill your limit? (Neil M.)

Answer: You can keep using both rods until you get your limit.


Are premium deer tags becoming unrestricted?
Question: I have a question about premium deer tags. When reading the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) definition of what determines if a tag is premium, it is very clear and I understand it. What I have not found is information that clarifies the procedure for a premium tag becoming unrestricted. If a tag is premium and the quota does not fill on or before the first business day after July 1, does it become an unrestricted tag the following year? That would make sense, however, when I look back at the drawing statistics in past years I have noticed it is not always what happens. As an example, A22 was a premium tag from 2003 through 2008 even though most of the 1000 tags were left over each of those years. In 2009 it went back to unrestricted. This year A22 and A31 were premium and did not fill in the drawing. Will they still be premium next year? (Steve B.)

Answer: Under the current regulations:

  • A Premium Deer Hunt is any hunt where the quota filled on or before the first business day after July 1, of the previous year.
  • A Restricted Deer Hunt is any hunt that filled on or before the first business day after August 1 of the previous year.
  • An Unrestricted Deer Hunt is any hunt that did not fill on or before the first business day after August 1, in the previous year.

The examples you provided occurred before the current regulations were adopted. The tag classification regulations that we have now where adopted in the 2009 big game drawing season.

This year, the deer tag quotas for A22 and A31 both filled on July 2, which is the first business day after July 1, so A22 and A31 will remain premium tags next year. The date in which a deer tag fills is the determining factor of which classification a tag is listed under, not whether the tag quota fills in the drawing or not. With this in mind, hunters need to pay close attention to which classification their tags are listed in each license year.

Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

Raw or Cooked … It Still Counts Towards Your Limit

Red abalone from California's North Coast (Photo by DFG Marine Biologist Derek Stein)

Question: I often go to Fort Bragg with a group of friends to get abalone. On the first day we all make our dives, and then in the evening we have abalone and a fish fry. The abalone is all sliced, pounded and breaded. Some always remains uncooked or cooked and not eaten. We go diving again the next day and get our limits again, and then head home that day or the next. I know I may only possess three abalone in the shells. However, what about the abalone I have left over, including the abalone that has been sliced, pounded and breaded for food? Will I be in violation for being over my limit? Do I need to keep the old shells and tags? (Terry L., Nipomo)

Answer: The law states: No more than one daily bag limit of each kind of fish, amphibian, reptile, mollusk or crustacean named may be taken or possessed by any one person unless otherwise authorized; regardless of whether they are fresh, frozen, or otherwise preserved (California Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 1.17). 

According to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Lt. Dennis McKiver, even if you have leftover abalone that is pounded, breaded and cooked, it still remains part of your abalone limit until you either eat it or give it away. If you have a partial abalone left over after your first day’s dinner, you would only be allowed to get two abalone the next day. Otherwise you would be over your possession limit. If you have three tagged abalone in their shells and one partial abalone pounded and breaded and you are headed home, you would not only be in violation of being in possession of an over limit, but you would also be in violation of transporting an abalone that has been removed from the shell.

In the future, make sure you eat all of your prepared abalone or else give it away before you get another full limit or head home.


Can I keep a pet dwarf caiman?
Question: I want to keep a pet dwarf caiman and was wondering how I can get a permit to do so. I know a lot about them and how to handle them properly based on what I’ve learned from other gator experts and gator farm workers. I have done a lot of research myself and know to never release a caiman into the wild. (Ian L.)

Answer: Unfortunately, you cannot keep a pet dwarf caiman. California restricts the importation and possession of many species, including all species in the Order Crocodilia. No restricted species may be imported or possessed for pet purposes. For additional information and a list of restricted species, please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/about/wildlife.html and click on “Restricted Species Laws” (PDF).


Starting a business to trap/eradicate wild feral hogs
Question: I am interested in starting a company to focus on trapping / eradicating wild feral hogs. Does California have a permit program for this venture? If so, how can I get information and an application to allow me to do this? Are there any counties that need this service? (Joseph W., Murrietta)

Answer: According to DFG Statewide Wild Pig Program Coordinator Marc Kenyon, a property owner may apply to the DFG for a permit (depredation permit) to kill wild pigs causing damage to their property. This depredation permit contains a section wherein up to three individuals may be listed to act as an “agent” on behalf of the landowner. These agents may kill the pigs for the landowner in the manner specified on the permit. You, as a sole proprietor of a company, could be listed as an agent on this permit at the time it is issued by DFG, and then you would be able to take the pigs as specified in the permit.

Wild pig populations are mostly concentrated around the central coastal counties, ranging from Mendocino to Ventura counties.


Shooting clay pigeons when doves not in season.
Question: Is it legal to shoot clay pigeons in the same fields that I use for dove hunting when doves are not in season? (Richard X.)

Answer: Fish and Game laws do not generally cover target practice. However, Fish and Game law does prohibit target practice on most state wildlife areas, except in specifically designated areas that are identified as such.

Keep in mind that shooting clay targets produces a lot of litter. Please make sure you have the property owner’s permission before you do it and comply with their requirements regarding cleanup.

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 Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.

What’s New for Abalone This Year?

Red abalone (Photo by DFG Marine Biologist Derek Stein)

Question: What are the new abalone regulations that will go into effect this year?

Answer: When the abalone harvest season opens on April 1, the following  new abalone regulations are going into effect:

1) The Fort Ross area will be closed for the first two month so abalone in this area may be taken only during the months of June, August, September, October and November (CCR Title 14, section 29.15(b)(1)). A map showing the abalone closure area around Fort Ross can be found at http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=42101&inline=true

2) Individuals taking abalone shall maintain separate possession of their abalone. Abalone may not be commingled in a float tube, dive board, dive bag, or any other container or device, until properly tagged. Only after abalones are properly tagged (as described in CCR Title 14, section 29.16 (b)), may they be commingled with other abalone taken by another person (CCR Title 14, section 29.15(g)(1)).


Becoming a federal trapper?
Question: I have a friend who lost some livestock to either coyotes or a mountain lion. He wants to protect the rest of his animals and was advised to contact the local government trapper. How can a person become a licensed trapper authorized to track down and remove these problem predatory animals?

Answer: Contact the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The mission of this agency is to provide federal leadership and expertise to resolve wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist. For more information, please go to www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/.


Why are there restrictions on black powder revolvers?
Question: Why is a black powder revolver, which develops more energy than some centerfire pistols, not legal for hunting? (Keith P.)

Answer: There is ever-increasing technology that provides for methods of take not currently authorized by the Fish and Game Commission (FGC). As new methods of take are developed, proposals to the FGC can be made for possible additions to the current legal methods authorized by the regulations. Until then, they may not be used.


Disposing of fish guts?
Question: What is the law on how to properly dispose of fish guts? If fishing from the shore in San Diego County, may I clean my catch and toss the remaining fish parts back into the ocean? Will the game warden be able to take a correct measurement with the head of the fish removed? (Larry W.)

Answer: Fish and Game laws do not prohibit you from returning the fish waste back to the ocean, although local ordinances may. Check with local police or harbor patrol officers for certainty. Once ashore, there is no requirement to keep fish in a whole condition. However, you must retain enough of the fish in order to accurately measure it. Generally, removing the guts is not an issue in determining size.


How to replace a lost license?
Question: With the old hunting and fishing licenses, I received a copy to be sent in for a replacement if I lost my license. With the new license, what do I do if it gets lost or damaged? (Brian)

Answer:  DFG’s new automated licensing system stores all sales transactions in a database. Simply visit a license agent or DFG office, provide your identification and indicate that you need to replace a lost or destroyed license. The system will verify your initial purchase and issue you a duplicate license. The new system will also be able to replace any additional validations you had to purchase. A duplicate license and replacement fee will be charged.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.

When Special Fishing Regulations Differ on the Same River

Even if regulations on various stretches of the same river differ, anglers may never exceed the daily bag or possession limit for the location where they are currently fishing, regardless of where the fish was caught (U.S.F.W.S. photo).

Question: What are the bag limits for waters that have special regulations for trout? In some cases, specifically the middle fork of the Stanislaus River, the river is broken down into sections. For example, from the Beardsley Dam down to the Spring Gap Bridge there are certain restrictions and the bag limit is two fish of at least 14 inches. From the same bridge down to New Melones Lake there are no special restrictions and the bag limit is two fish.

If you fish on one side of the bridge following the special restrictions (only artificial lures and barbless hooks) and you keep two fish that are at least 14 inches, can you also be in possession of two fish from the other side of the bridge that allows any type of bait and hook? Meaning you would be in possession of four fish because they were caught essentially under the bag limit of the two different bodies of water based on the regulations. Also, how would you be able to prove to a game warden if they ask about the additional two fish that you caught up river beyond the bridge? (Larry G.)

Answer: You may not exceed the daily bag or possession limit for the location where you are currently fishing, regardless of where you caught the fish. In your example, the daily bag limit is two fish, and you cannot exceed that limit on the same day even if you fish multiple segments of the river.

For an alphabetical list of waters with special fishing regulations, see California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 7.50. In the current California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet, they can be found beginning on page 30.


Combo shotgun/rifles
Question: I was told recently by my gunsmith that it’s illegal to use a double gun – a rifle/shotgun combo, like the Savage Model 24 – when hunting birds in California. Do you have any knowledge of this or any idea of who to ask? (Dave and Jim M.)

Answer: Combination rifle/shotguns used to be fairly common and are making a bit of a comeback. According to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Lt. Todd Tognazzini, they are legal to carry as long as the method matches the species being hunted. If the person is hunting for a species where the use of the rifle or shotgun is restricted or not permitted, they may not have ammunition for the restricted barrel. For example, if a person is hunting turkey with a 12 gauge shotgun using No. 2 shot, but they also have .22 caliber ammo in possession, this could result in a citation.

Hunting with these combo guns also restricts the hunter to one shot. For example, if shooting turkeys with the shotgun barrel, the hunter would have to reload another shotgun shell if they missed or needed a backup shot. If the other barrel is being used for anything except small game, lead restrictions would apply. And if hunting in the Condor Zone, lead restrictions would also apply!


Fishing for mussels?
Questions: What are the regulations for taking saltwater mussels? Can they be taken year-round or do they have a specific season? (Tom W.)

Answer: Saltwater mussels may only legally be taken by hand and there is no size limit, but only 10 lbs. of mussels in the shell may be taken each day. By law, mussels may be taken year-round, but the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) monitors and annually quarantines the take of mussels for human consumption to prevent cases of paralytic shellfish poisoning and domoic acid poisoning. The quarantine is usually in effect from May through October. Before you go, check with CDPH for daily updated information on quarantines and naturally occurring shellfish toxins by calling their Shellfish Biotoxin Information Line at (510) 412-4643 or toll-free at (800) 553-4133 or by checking online at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/healthadvisory.asp.


Dove decoys
Question: Which dove decoys are legal here in California? Can I use the motorized dove decoy? (Kevin T.)

Answer: California hunting regulations do not contain provisions specific to using decoys to take doves. Motorized decoys may be used to take doves so long as they don’t produce any bird calls or sounds. The use of live decoys is prohibited.  (Fish and Game Code, section 3012 and CCR Title 14 sections 311(l) and 505.)

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.

Noise Suppressors for Target Shooting or Hunting?

Whether hunting or target shooting, noise suppressors are not legal to use or even possess (Photo: National Shooting Sports Foundation)

Question:Is it legal to use noise suppressors (mistakenly called silencers) on rifles and handguns? I know that porting, venting, flash collars and muzzle brakes are OK to use at target ranges and while legally hunting in California. Can a noise suppressor that is attached to the front end of the barrel, or that slides over the front end of the barrel, be lawfully used at a target range or while legally hunting anywhere in California? (Tony N., Sr.)

Answer: No, stay completely away from silencers. It is a felony for any person, firm or corporation within the state to possess a silencer (California Penal Code, section 12520). Upon conviction, punishment includes imprisonment in the state prison or a fine not to exceed $10,000, or both. A silencer is defined as “… any device or attachment of any kind designed, used or intended for use in silencing, diminishing or muffling the report of a firearm.” This definition and law also applies to any combination of parts, designed or redesigned, and intended for use in assembling or fabricating a silencer (California Penal Code, section 12500).


Beer on a boat?
Question: Why do most, if not all, boats for hire ban taking beer or liquor aboard? I have worked as a deckhand and fully understand the safety concerns, as well as what large amounts of space coolers full of beer for up to 70 people on a half-day trip might take up. What I am wondering though is whether there are any U.S. Coast Guard or Department of Fish and Game (DFG) laws against it that I can quote for people who ask. Many of the anglers I’ve spoken with over the years get angry because they think the boat is just trying to make a buck. (Rob M.)

Answer: There is no Fish and Game law prohibiting alcohol aboard a boat. However, there is a Harbors and Navigation Code law (section 655) that prohibits a person from operating a vessel while intoxicated, similar to the prohibitions for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.


Lead in possession on a duck hunting refuge?
Question: Some say if you are duck hunting on a refuge and you have some lead quail loads in the truck (because you’re going quail hunting on the way home in the afternoon), a game warden could ticket you for having lead shot in possession. Other friends say that as long as the lead shot is secured in the truck and not in your actual possession while hunting, then you’re not in violation. It seems to me this situation would be like the 25 shell limit in the field. As far as I know you can have additional shells in your truck as long as you only have 25 or less in your possession while hunting. If you run out then you can return to the truck for more. Who’s right? (Eric M.)

Answer: You are. As long as the lead stays in your truck, you should have no problem.


What to do when an abalone’s shell breaks?
Question: Earlier this season I was diving a low tide looking for big abs. I happened to find a nine-incher. He was really clamped down and a lot stronger than the clickers I’m used to. In the process of popping him off, the shell broke into pieces. Since I did not know the legality of keeping an ab with a broken shell, I had to leave it there. It haunts me every day. Did I do the right thing? (Jesse L.)

Answer: First of all (as you probably now know), before trying to pop any abalone off their substrate, be sure to first insert the abalone iron correctly under the animal to be sure you have the appropriate leverage to pop the animal off without injuring it. If the animal is clamped down too tightly to where you can’t get the ab iron under the animal correctly without harming the animal, then you should leave it alone and come back later once the animal has relaxed and you can remove it properly. A better idea would be to pursue another abalone that is not locked down to the rocks.

Regarding your situation, you did the right thing as the law requires that abalone are in a whole condition and attached to the shell.  It is impossible to measure an abalone with a fractured shell and often the abalone is no longer attached to the shell once you fracture it.  Next time try to leave a clamped down abalone alone and choose another that may be more easily harvested.

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 Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.