A conch is a type of edible snail that resides in the ocean, especially the hot waters of the Caribbean. Conch is actually a type of mollusk that lives in a spiral shaped shell. They’re 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 across the sea floor by propelling themselves with their muscle bodies, which makes it look as though they’re 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 most significant threat to these mollusks, but they’re also a tasty meal for other sea animals such as lobsters, turtles, octopus, crabs, sharks and sting rays.
Conch is a natural resource and an important source of income to many Caribbean nations. It has recently been recognized that conch has been over-fished and the numbers of conch have significantly decreased in past few years. Therefore, conch has been set on the commercially endangered species list, called CITES or Convention for the International Trade of Endangered Species. Loss of habitat and overfishing has made it essential to protect this species. In actuality, conch cannot be harvested legally in the United States.
A conch starts out as one of several hundred thousand small eggs hidden beneath the sand on the sea floor. They reach maturity at around 4 years old 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 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 colour of conch pearl is pink. Conch pearls are different from an oyster’s pearl because they have a slightly more iridescent shimmer.
Every portion of the conch can be used, from the meat into the shell. The conch has many layers of coloured shell inside and is renowned for its beauty. The shell is a very important source for local tourist industry, as it can be crafted into many diverse items. Shells from the conch are often made into Caribbean jewelry, like cameos or necklaces. Ornaments and musical instruments are also very popular souvenirs made from the conch shell. Needless to say, many tourists decide to simply bring the untouched shell back to their homes as a reminder of their Caribbean holiday.
Conch is a favorite dish for many seafood lovers and can be prepared in several different ways. There are numerous dozen restaurants in the Bahamas that provide a variety of conch dishes. Conch meat is very popular and is made into everything from chowders to burgers to salads and needless to say, the ever-popular conch fritter. Conch meat has to be tenderized or marinated, since it’s extremely tough. The meat has a sweet flavor, similar to that of a clam.