I have been an abalone diver for 40 years (regarding “The snails did go quickly,” July 3, 2008). I recall free diving for large red abalone off Shell Beach.
I personally witnessed the destruction of the abalone and Pismo clam resources by sea otters in the 1980s and ’90s.
The only remaining abalone resource is on the north coast of California, above San Francisco. There it is still possible to secure limits of large red abalone by free diving. I have been free diving on the north coast for 15 years. I have seen no reduction, either in size or numbers.
Unfortunately, the Department of Fish and Game has issued permits for the release of orphan sea otters on the north coast. This will be the end of this resource.