The Occurrence of Red Abalone Shells in Northern Channel Island Archaeological Middens: Implications for Climatic Reconstruction

Certain archaeological sites on the northern Channel Islands dating between ca. 4,500 and 7,500 B.P. contain unusually high frequencies of red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) shells. Assuming that aboriginal peoples living at these sites collected shellfish principally from the intertidal zone, the high frequency of red abalone shells may reflect a time when sea water temperatures were cooler than present, allowing red abalone to be the dominant abalone species in the intertidal zone.