21 amazing facts about Paua

21 amazing facts about Paua

Sandrine Sandrine March 11, 2023 0 Comments blog

1- “The mutton fish” was how the Europeans called it, before the Maori word “paua” was picked up in the 1840s.

2- The Paua is one of the most expensive seafood in the world, even in New Zealand, restaurants pay $90 a kilogram for frozen paua.

3- Nothing gets left behind in the Paua shell industry

  1. The seafood harvested from commercial divers is packed and prepared to be ready to sell in NZ and all over the world.
  2. The shells goes to a shell factory to polish the shell and makes a beautiful and unique NZ souvenirs for visitors.
  3. The dust collected from polishing the shells get send to the local recycle centre and helps for the decomposition of rubbish!

4-The Paua is the most colourful seashell in the world. There is no other shell in the world that has the color like Paua Shell color that varies from greens & pinks to purples & blues and even some shells with gold or crimson tones.

5- Paua is a member of the abalone family (Haliotidae) of which there are around 140 species worldwide.

6-The holes in the shell are for breathing and reproduction.

7- Paua take about three to four years to reach legal size.

8- Starfish are the paua’s most formidable predator as they have learnt to suffocate the paua by putting their tentacles over the breathing holes thus forcing the paua to let go of the rock.

9- Paua have an oval shaped shell, inside which is a large muscular foot which clings to rocks. They have a pair of eyes, a mouth and tentacles, and breathe through gills which are near their mouth under a row of pores in the shell.

10- Paua meat is a traditional delicacy for the Maori. Essential for a good wedding feast or celebration. Although it is harder to find than it used to be, most New Zealanders would rate paua up there with oysters as their preferred shellfish. 

11- These days most paua meat is exported to Asia, where abalone has always been regarded as one of the supreme delicacies.

12- Paua shell was traditionally used by Maori to illuminate the eyes of their carving and artwork. The reddish colored shell were most prized for depicting the flashing red eyes of the warrior.

13-The use of paua shell in all manner of jewelry and sculpture has become a distinctive feature of New Zealand artwork.

14- Pāua have two teeth! They use it to eat seaweed and they’re hidden underneath the meat on the ‘foot’ side. The teeth are at the gut end, where the gut attaches to the Pāua.

15- Natural paua pearls do exist, but they are always concretions produced by the animal outside the mantle and are inevitably very oddly shaped. The success rate of the pearl production in the wild is not high.

After years of experimentation, Picton couple Mike and Antonia Radon have perfected the cultivation of paua ‘pearls’. The round blue pearls – which take 3 or 4 years to form within a paua shell – sell for anywhere between $300 and $5,000,

16- NEW ZEALAND’S LEGAL commercial take of wild paua is currently set at 1200 tonnes a year. That represents a reasonable pare of a limited world market, compared to South Africa’s 800 tonnes, Tasmania’s 3500, Victoria’s 1500 and South Australia’s 900 tonnes.

17-Abalone Shells are believed to bring guidance, and calm emotions. Abalone Shells are a sacred symbol of the sea. They can help strengthen love within relationships and foster interpersonal harmony.

18- The world’s largest species of abalone or ormer is the red abalone Haliotis rufescens, which can attain a maximum shell length of 31 cm.

19- Last year, at a seafood banquet at the prestigious Hong Kong restaurant The Forum, chef Yeung Koon Yat (nicknamed the “Abalone King”) offered his signature dish of braised whole dried New Zealand paua for $1-1K10,000 (around $2000) a serving.

20- The most sought-after shells are usually sourced from colder waters where they grow more slowly: Kaikoura, Fiordland and Stewart Island, in particular. In the northern North Island, shells grow rapidly, but rarely exceed 90 mm in size and are always thin and unsuited to jewellery work.

21- Lime is toxic. The buildup of lime ( thick white coat )allows Paua to blend in with their surroundings and helps defend them from predators. The dust created through the grinding and cutting of abalone shell is toxic and carvers and cutters must be careful so as to not inhale the fine dust particles.


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