“Abalone bars, floats, wet suits, fins, masks and snorkels – things like that, where they free dive,” Santa Clara’s Diver Dan’s Dive Shop owner Dan King said are the items selling ahead of the opening.
Diver Mike McConnell said he’s trying to be more creative when it comes to cooking abalone.
“I think it was a mango ceviche was one of the best ways I tried last year,” McConnell said.
But, some prefer abalone the traditional way: “slice it thin, pound it, bread it, then fry it,” McConnell said.
The drought hasn’t affected abalone, but the warm water conditions have, reducing the kelp abalone feed on, leaving them noticeably leaner than in the past.
Plucking the highly prized abalones from the ocean comes with serious risks.
“Usually some of the free divers that we do see in here are people over 50 years old for example that maybe it’s a little bit of a physical challenge for them, and the north coast can be a little unforgiving,” King said.
Four divers died within the first 10 days of the abalone season in 2015.