Green Ormer The green ormer (Haliotis tuberculata) is a northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean species of sea snail, a coastal marine gastropod mollusk in the family Haliotidae, the abalones or ormer snails. The flesh of the green ormer is prized as a delicacy, and this has led to a decline in its population in some areas.
The shell of this species is oval in shape, being almost circular in the young and becoming broader with age. The two sides of the abalone are connected by a flat face or "mantle". The shell coloration varies from dark green to gray, often with brown blotches. The exact patterning is unique to each individual. The shell has about 50% of the surface covered by small, round protuberances called "tubercles", which are arranged in spiral rows. The number of tubercles is therefore an identifying characteristic.
The inner surface of the shell is smooth and shiny, with a greenish-yellow or brown glaze on fresh specimens and a matte inner surface in older specimens. The inner surfaces of the shell margins are green or pink, without tubercles. The animal itself is pale brown with darker patches on its head and near the respiratory hole. It has narrow tentacles above the eyestalks which it uses to find food.
They feed primarily at night on algae, preferring encrusting forms such as Gigartina and Corallina, but also eating other macroalgae. The green ormer can damage the structure of seaweeds by boring holes in them to get at the thalli underneath.
In Ireland, it is illegal to sell this snail for food. In the United Kingdom, there are strict laws on selling sand with live green ormers. The green ormer is found in the Mediterranean Sea and the northeast Atlantic, from Scandinavia to West Africa including Portugal, Spain, France, Ireland, the United Kingdom (but not Scotland), Azores, and the Canary Islands.
Several different fossil forms have been described within this species complex with H. tuberculata, including Haliotis (Haliotis) (Pleuromeris) tuberculata d'Orbigny, 1841; Haliotis (Pseudhaliotis) tuberculata d'Orbigny, 1841; and Haliotis (Pupa) tuberculata pretiosa Brocchi, 1814.