"REPORTING FROM BODEGA BAY, CALIF. -- Hunched over a tank inside the Bodega Marine Laboratory, alongside bubbling vats of seaweed and greenhouses filled with algae, Kristin Aquilino coaxed a baby white abalone onto her hand.
She held out the endangered sea snail — no larger than a bottle cap — like a delicate jewel. After years of fretting over their health, cleaning tanks and filtering the saltwater just right, one tiny oops could undo it all.
“They’re like human hemophiliacs,” Aquilino said, using a plastic ruler to measure the stubborn gastropod as it twisted and squirmed. “Even a small cut, they can bleed to death.”
To the untrained eye, they appear pretty drab. But in this humming lab, home to more white abalone than in the wild, these invertebrates have captured minds and even hearts. They’re the unsung canary in the coal mine — their vanishing numbers sounding the alarm of human greed and the perils we face as the land and oceans burn."