Ormer is a single-shelled gastropod that crawls (limpet-like) over the
rocks feeding on algae. It remains attached by a powerful green foot and
shows a mantle of green. A curved line of
holes is distinctive and white parts of the mantle occasionally
protrude from largest of these.
of the shell is a smooth nacre ("Mother of Pearl"). The outside is rough
usually a dirty green or brownish colour. Occasional specimens could be
by Chris Hicks (Northolt)
frilly margin running around the perimeter of the shell is called the epipodium.
Species: Common Ormer, Haliotis lamellosa (Mediterranean
Molluscs (UK Conchology)
chump through vast quantities of macro-algae every night. At the
moment Ulva (Sea Lettuce) seems to be their favourite but they also
like Calliblepharis, Palmaria and Cryptopleura (all reds).
A certain amount depends on what we can keep for a reasonable length of
time in the tanks but most flat red or green algae seem suitable.
Jenny Mallinson (Southampton Oceanography Centre)
red seaweed that looks like a red Sea Lettuce is a favourite. The adult
specimen fed extensively on microalgae. by Jenny Glanvill (Devon WWT).
eat microalgae, diatoms, bacterial film.
consume brown algae, including kelps, but will eat almost any seaweed.
sexes are separate and fertilisation is external. The larvae (trochophores)
have a short life of only 5 or 6 days in the plankton, which does
not favour a wide dispersal. It takes over 3 years for the mollusc to attain
a breeding size of 40 mm. (Is this the wild growth rate?) Their life span
does not exceed 6 years.
edible mollusc is well known from the Channel Islands. This is the northern
limit of their distribution. They are found from the Mediterranean up the
Atlantic coast of France and Portugal where they are commercially fished.
to 12 cm long, Ormers are found in shallow water underneath weed-covered
rocks and boulders. Their muscular foot allows them a remarkable turn of
speed when they need to escape from a predator or inquisitive diver.
centuries ormers have been gathered by hand on the lowest spring tides,
known locally as ormering tides, and are considered a great delicacy in
information on Sue Daly's Channel Islands "Feature Creature on the Ormer".
Click on the logo below to go to her site.
Further information on the
family Haliotidae is also found in the book
"Living Marine Molluscs" from page 50.
rounded openings are used for the discharge of water from the mantle cavity
after the oxygen has been extracted.
the Student's Guide
to the Seashore by J.D. & S. Fish).
half the holes near the mantle end are closed and not in use.
mystery animal discovered by Richard Huggett (Eastbourne) was originally
identified incorrectly by Andy Horton as Haliotis tuberculata. It
has now been found to be a foreign species but still an interesting
This specimen (above) was
found in a shell collection from Lancing,
West Sussex, but it was probably brought back from abroad. The species
has not been identified at the time of writing (16
the last three weeks now divers and snorkellers on the north coast have
been finding freshly empty shells. I found about 30 over one weekend. Normally
you may find one or two if you looked really hard. On a night dive recently
I have seen lobsters eating dead ormers, something I've never seen before.
Survey dives at various locations along the north coast have revealed the
same results. Our fisheries department did some survey dives at
Minquiers reef which is off the south coast of Jersey half way to St Malo,
and only found one live ormer.
very, very depressing. As you have probably realised we are all very fond
of ormers down here and proud to have them in our waters. They have been
gathered by locals for centuries with ormering and ormer casserole a part
of the island's heritage. Jersey's Environmental Services Unit and the
Dept. of Agriculture and Fisheries are looking into the problem. The same
thing happened this time last year along the French coast with a large
proportion of their population dying out. It is also happening there again
this year and they fear that those that survived last year will die this
a slightly brighter note - I was in Sark yesterday diving with some people
from Guernsey and it seems that so far neither of these islands have been
Sue Daly (Jersey)
die off in Jersey is serious. An article in the Guernsey Press on
2 September 1999 said "that Jersey may close its ormer fishery this
winter". The mortality is reported at 50 to 60%. I spoke
to Grey Morel at Jersey Sea Fisheries. He said that this die-off
started in Southern Brittany in 1997, reached northern Brittany in 1998,
and now it is in Jersey in 1999.Guernsey is clear at the moment.An infectious
agent has not been discovered.
Richard Lord (Guernsey)
States (Government) discussed if the ban on fishing for ormers - Haliotis
tuberculata should be lifted. This ban was put in place in 1999 when
a mysterious virus (possibly caused by some sort of toxic algae , results
have either not been found, or are yet to be made public) alledgedly killed
many of the already overfished stocks in Jersey and France. The virus was
found in France three years prior to Jersey and today it was reported that
their stocks had recovered in France and the ban lifted there, although
when I was in Brittany in November the ban was still in place in France,
saying this several French fishermen where seen taking them in Jersey waters
during the summer of 2001. Jersey stocks are reported as recovering slightly.
for ormers takes place during the low spring tides that occur at the equinoxes,
high pressure can make the tide draw about 2 feet more than predicted,
and low pressure has the opposite affect (the tide actually pushes higher),
fishermen go down to kelp covered boulders or reefs and mostly scour underneath
the rocks with a long blunt hook, or turn over large boulders, there is
an unwritten law that the boulders are always turned back to protect the
reports of ten tons being landed to the Jersey market and 30 tons being
in the market come from the latter 19 century are reflected with personal
catches before the ban being in 1999 being counted individually, a dozen
per fisherman being the average or good !
virus never reached Guernsey, which is said to be because the sea temperature
is a degree or two cooler than the waters to the south.
following are pieces from the "Bulletin of the Jersey Society in London"
published in 1959
1673 an article was written "News from the Channel" referring to Sark it
said ormers were eaten fresh or pickled, and it went on about the delights
of this delicacy.
1859 F.C. Lukis wrote about the use of shells as in furniture.
the demand for ormer shells is on the decline, one merchant has at least
15 to 20 tons in store" prices fetched 7/6 per cwt, the quantity bought
to this merchant is 4 - 9 tons per season. The average weight of a normal
shell is 23.9 gm, which would mean 42,500 shells per ton ( this would take
212,500 ormers to make 5 tons of shells!)
1859 Jeffrey's writes "The principal use to which the shell now appears
to be put to in the Channel Islands is to frighten away small birds from
the standing corn, two or three of them being strung together and suspended
from a stick so as to make a clatter when moved by the wind"
the following was about Guernsey
1923 T.A Stephenson carried out an investigation for the States. He stated
that during the preceding 20 years catches had diminished from 10 to 14
dozen to only 3 dozen per head. At his suggestion ormering was suspended
from 1924 to 1926.
by Nicolas Jouault
Le Tissier found a white-shelled Ormer,
tuberculata, at ELWS on the rocky
promontory off Cobo, on the west coast of Guernsey.
Tostevin, a retired ormer aquaculturist, has
never seen one and was very interested in the discovery.
tuberculata, with a minimum shell
length of 80 mm can be legally collected from the shores of Guernsey.
an Ormer of shell
length 11.75 cm on 18 October 2005
at La Valette on Guernsey's east coast - south of St. Peter Port. I wanted
to find out if this Ormer
was still under the same rock. I was not disappointed. This is the second
time I have found an Ormer
in the autumn which has remained under the same rock through to the New
Year. I did not collect it but hope it survives the ormer collecting season
which continues during large spring tides until the end of April.Report
by Richard Lord
mollusc is eaten in France and the Channel Isles. The rather tough flesh
is first battered and tenderised before being fried. The flesh has an appealing
restrictions apply to the collection of this mollusc in the Channel Islands.
French regional (Jersey and Guernsey) ormer, variant of French ormeau (1563
in plural as hourmeaux ), either shortened < oreille de mer (although
this is first attested later: 1611 in Cotgrave), or < an unattested
post-classical Latin *auris maris sea-ear ( < auris shell (5th cent.),
spec. use of classical Latin auris ear (see auricle n.) + maris , genitive
singular of mare sea: see mare n.4), with allusion to the shell's resemblance
to an ear.
E. Gregory & L. Dickenson Brit. Patent 101 (1857) 3 The
saide arte or misterie of takeing away the outsides of the saide shells
called ormers shells.
Sir C. Lyttelton in Hatton Corr. (1878) 81 Ye ormers were thought
most excellent meate.
P. Falle Acct. Isle of Jersey ii. 74 We have also the Ormer,
which is a Fish scarce known out of these Islands. Ormer?is a Contraction
of Oreille de Mer.? It has no Under-shell like the Oyster, but the Fish
clingeth to the Rock with the Back, and the Shell covers the Belly.
Househ. Guide & Almanac (News of World) 283/1 The name
ormer is probably a corruption of oreille-de-mer, the ‘ear of the sea’—and
it certainly is a good description of the shape of the ormer's shell.
Epipodium of Abalone
25 April 1998
You 'orrible little shellfish
Ormering in Guernsey.
Information wanted: Please
send any records of this invertebrate, with location, date, who discovered
it, how it was identified, prevalence, common name and any other details
Project EMail Glaucus@hotmail.com.
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