Freed from predation pressure, abalone had become plentiful in California’s coastal waters. Native Americans had been decimated by infectious diseases and the economies of coastal (and other) tribes had been severely disrupted. Sea otters, which devour abalone, were on the brink of extinction thanks to the global fur trade, as otter pelts fetched exorbitant prices in high fashion circles. Most Euro-Americans viewed abalone as an inedible oddity. But in China, abalone were an overfished delicacy. Chinese immigrants recognized a golden opportunity to tap an unexploited market, and they had the skills to make it happen.