Published on Jan 11, 2020

Conch Background Images

License Info: Creative Commons 4.0 BY-NC
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A conch is a type of edible snail that dwells in the ocean, particularly the warm waters of the Caribbean. Conch is actually a type of mollusk that lives in a spiral shaped shell. They are known as marine gastropod mollusks. There are several different species of conch, the most popular being Strombus gigas, which is also known as the queen conch or pink-lipped conch. This is the most commonly recognized species of conch, especially to tourists visiting the Caribbean.

These mollusks move along the ocean floor by propelling themselves with their muscular bodies, which makes it appear as if they are jumping. This jumping movement allows them to find food along the ocean floor. This movement is also helpful in hiding their scent trail from predators. Humans pose the largest threat to these mollusks, but they are also a tasty meal for other sea creatures such as lobsters, turtles, octopus, crabs, sharks and sting rays.

Conch is a natural resource and an important source of income to many Caribbean countries. It has recently been recognized that conch has been over-fished and the numbers of conch have significantly decreased in last few years. Therefore, conch has been placed on the commercially threatened species list, known as CITES or Convention for the International Trade of Endangered Species. Loss of habitat and overfishing has made it necessary to protect this species. In fact, conch cannot be harvested legally in the United States.

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It is not unusual for a conch to live up to 25 years in captivity. A conch starts out as one of several hundred thousand small eggs hidden beneath the sand on the ocean floor. They reach adulthood at around 4 years of age or at about 6 inches in length. Conch can reach an average length of 13 inches when they are fully grown.

One little known fact about conch is that they have the ability to produce pearls. Although is very rare, conch pearls come in a variety of colors, just like pears from an oyster. The most common color of conch pearl is pink. Conch pearls are different from an oyster’s pearl in that they have a slightly more iridescent shimmer.

Every part of the conch can be used, from the meat to the shell. The conch has many layers of colored shell inside and is renowned for its beauty. The shell is a very important resource for local tourist industry, as it can be crafted into many different items. Shells from the conch are often made into Caribbean jewelry, such as cameos or necklaces. Ornaments and musical instruments are also very popular souvenirs made from the conch shell. Of course, many tourists choose to simply bring the untouched shell back to their homes as a reminder of their Caribbean vacation.

The meat from the conch is a staple food in the Bahamas. Conch is a favorite dish for many seafood lovers and can be prepared in many different ways. There are several dozen restaurants in the Bahamas that offer a variety of conch dishes. Conch meat is very popular and is made into everything from chowders to burgers to salads and of course, the ever-popular conch fritter. Conch meat needs to be tenderized or marinated, as it is very tough. The meat has a sweet flavor, similar to that of a clam.

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