The Queen Conch life in the Caribbean

The Queen Conch lifecycle explained.

Today, we propose you to take the time to understand the Queen Conch lifecycle. From a small egg to a large sea snail, it takes few years for Queen Conch to grow. It’s a long process allowing them to grow a large shell, full of colors, that can reach 40cm.

Living in the Carribean only, the Conch Pearls “creators” are interesting gastropods. They populate the bottom of the ocean from Florida to Brazil. Eating seagrass, they are an exquisite dish for Octopus, but also human who cook their meat to make “ceviche”, a dish in which the meat is cooked by lemon/lime juice.

From a tiny baby to a strong adult.

At the initial stage of the Queen Conch lifecycle, the “mother” queen conch, lays between 300,000 to 450,000 eggs per year from April to September. It depends mostly on the temperature of the water. Queen conch eggs spend 3 to 5 days floating as planktonic larvae. Then, they drown to the bottom of the ocean, settling down. After one year under the sand, they emerge as 4 to 6 cm small queen conch. They grow for four years, the shell being their spiral home, reaching their adult size. During their adult life, they grow on their shell a thicker lip. Actually, you can evaluate the age of a Queen conch based on the thickness of its lip. They can live for 20 years if nothing disturbs them. Habitat loss, pollution, human disturbance, are the main causes of the decrease of the Queen Conch Population.

Queen Conch fishing.

It’s common to hear that the Queen Conch is overfished, and it’s probably true. In addition, its meat represents an important stream of revenue for the fishermen in the Caribbean, which makes it hard to substitute. Despite its regulation under CITES, the Queen Conch in certain areas is disappearing little by little. In conclusion, only the locals have the power to prevent the extinction from happening.

Queen Conch lifecycle - Strombus Gigas

Taking a look at the shell of a queen conch. We can see the eyes, mouth, and foot. Image made in the Bahamas. The queen conch is an endangered species.

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