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A conch (pronounced "konk") is a large gastropod mollusk that lives in the seagrass beds of Florida, The Bahamas, Caribbean and Bermuda.
They are herbivores (vegetarians) and graze on microscope algae off the sand and the seagrass blades.
Conch are slow moving animals, which makes them easy to fish in shallow waters with snorkel or from a boat with a hook and glass bottom bucket. In some countries hooka and scuba diving are used to fish conch in deeper water.
Conch are listed under Appendix II in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which means their trade is controlled and countries that export conch to the US need to have a conch fisheries management plan. https://cites.org/eng/prog/queen_conch/introduction
When the conch grows, its shell lengthens and continues to grow in a spiral. When it is about 3 to 3.5 years old, its shell stops growing and starts to form a broad flared lip. When the shell lip is fully formed and the thickness of the lip is 15 mm or greater it is ready to be harvested for eating. The conch are about 4-5 years old when the lip thickness is 15 mm. Conch live to about 20 - 40 years old.
Conch aquaculture can help to take the fishing pressure off wild population by farming conch from the egg stage to adult for seafood or for restoration of the species. Training fishers and others to be conch farmers offers diversified livelihoods.
Conch are eaten by loggerhead sea turtles, nurse sharks, rays, octopus, horse conch and other carnivorous snails, crabs, spiny lobsters, fish and humans.
Conch are eaten raw in salads, or cooked, as in cracked conch, chowders, fritters, and gumbos.
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