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Strombus gigas Species ID:
Possesses a large conical shell with a flared lip (1) which spirals to a point adorned with knobby spines (2). The orange to brown shell is often covered in encrusting algae, while the inside edge of the lip is a rich pink or orange colour. Small yellow eyes on stalks protrude from under the narrow end of the shell (3), and a yellowish horn on the end of the muscular foot is used for locomotion (4) Maximum size:
30cm (12 in), the largest marine snail Longevity:
Up to 30 years Status:
Not currently on the IUCN endangered species list due to a lack of information, but its trade is restricted by CITES Queen Conch & People:
The queen conch is highly sought after for food in the Caribbean and has become scarce in many areas due to overharvesting, although new mariculture initiatives are now helping to provide a stable supply of farmed queen conchs
Common to occasional throughout the Caribbean Coral Reef Zone:
Queen conchs are commonly found in sand or rubble areas of the shore zone, back reef, fore reef zones, particularly in seagrass meadows Favourite Habitat:
Adult queen conchs are found in deeper patch-reef areas, whereas juveniles are more common in shallow seagrass beds Depth Range:
1 – 30 m (3 – 100 ft)
A Day in the Life
Dawn: Activity declines and conchs seek shelter
Day: Queen conchs are less active and often hide under ledges or within caves on the reef. Mating may also occur during the day
Dusk: Queen conchs leave their shelter to graze
Night: Queen conchs graze in sandy areas throughout the reef; mating may also occur
Who Eats Who?
The queen conch is primarily a herbivore and grazes algae and sometimes detritus (decaying plants and animals). Juveniles are eaten by a variety of fish, but the adult’s imposing shell deters most predators. Adults are only eaten regularly by predators specialized in feeding on hard-shelled prey such as the nurse shark, spotted eagle ray and stingrays.
Scuba Diver & Snorkeler Best Practices
Practice snorkeling skills away from the reef, such as near the beach or in a sandy area. Relax in the water, and try to swim without using your arms. Remember, practice makes perfect.