Sunday, 27 July 2014

A new species of Abalone from São Tomé & Príncipe.

Abalones (Haliotidae) are large, flattened marine Gastropods with distinctive shells. They have a row of small circular openings on their shells used for breathing, and a mother-of-pearl interior. They are widely eaten, and farmed in many areas, though in other places over-collection of wild Abalones has provoked conservation concerns.

In a paper published in the journal Zootaxa on 16 July 2014, Buzz Owen of Gualala, California, describes a new species of Abalone from the São Tomé & Príncipe Islands in the Gulf of Guinea, West Africa. The São Tomé & Príncipe Islands form an extension of the Cameroon Volcanic Line from the coast of Cameroon to the island of Annobón in the eastern Atlantic, and are considered a biodiversity hotspot with a large proportion of endemic species, although one that has been poorly studied to date.

The new species is placed in the genus Haliotis, and given the specific name geigeri, in honour of Daniel Geiger, an expert on Abalones. Haliotis geigeri is a small Abalone, reaching 41 mm (many species exceed 10 cm), slightly oblong in shape and with a reddish colouration. The species is described entirely from shells collected at depths of 5-20 m; no living specimens were collected (Gastropods are often described from shells alone).

Specimens of Haliotis geigeri from São Tomé & Príncipe. Owen (2014).

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