Pinto abalone were poached almost to extinction by the end of the 90s.
The tasty meat of this shellfish, combined with its mother of pearl shell, made pinto abalone a target for illegal harvest, and a delicacy in Asia.
Thousands upon thousands of them were taken from Puget Sound.
You can hear the pride in Josh Bouma’s voice as he peers down into a tank at the NOAA labs in Mukilteo. Bouma is a shellfish biologist with the Puget Sound Restoration Fund and manages a captive breeding operation for pinto abalone. He’s raised these abalone from tiny larvae.