During the 1950s, 60s, and early 70s, California's coast seemed awash in abalone. From San Diego to Crescent City, people
feasted on abalone steaks and glimmering shells were sold in trinket shops. Abalones' remarkable abundance and appeal made
them icons of California's easy-living, laid-back beach culture. But just a few decades later, many younger Californians had
never seen the legendary mollusk. In the past twenty years, two of California's seven abalone species have joined the U.S.
Endangered Species list, and even the hardiest now faces the ecological collapse of its home habitat in Northern California
- long regarded as a sure stronghold. After more than 70 million years of gripping tenaciously to North America's western
shoreline, how - in our time - did the fate of the delicious, wondrous, and once abundant abalone become so precarious?