Caribbean
Megan Davis / Florida Atlantic University

Caribbean - ‘Hail to the Queen’ - Saving the Caribbean Queen Conch

World’s Leading Expert on Queen Conch Aquaculture Publishes Step-by-step Manual to Culture and Restore the Queen Conch

With an estimated lifespan between 25 to 40 years, the queen conch (Strombus gigas) is a prized delicacy long harvested for food and is revered for its beautiful shell. Second only to the spiny lobster, it is one of the most important benthic fisheries in the Caribbean region. Unfortunately, the species faces a challenge of survival: how to endure and thrive, as populations are in a steady state of decline from overfishing, habitat degradation and hurricane damage. In some places, the conch populations have dwindled so low that the remaining conch cannot find breeding partners. This dire situation is urgent in ecological and economic terms.

To preserve this most significant molluscan fishery in the Caribbean, a scientist from Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute has dedicated more than four decades of research into the science and art of growing queen conch. Her latest contribution – an 80-page, step-by-step user manual that provides complete illustrations and photos of how to culture queen conch. The “Queen Conch Aquaculture: Hatchery and Nursery Phases User Manual,” was recently published in the National Shellfisheries Association’s Journal of Shellfish Research.

The manual is a deliverable of the Puerto Rico Saltonstall-Kennedy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries grant, which is a two-year collaboration and project with Conservación Conciencia, the Naguabo Commercial Fishing Association and fishers in Puerto Rico.

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