Conch lessons for teaching and training
Dissection for male and female queen conch
Frequently asked questions about conch
This project was funded by Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund and Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. The lesson plans are available in English and Spanish.
Students will be introduced to the ways queen conch were used and how the fishery impacted Caribbean countries throughout history.
Students will learn where conch are found in the world, their habitat, protection of their habitat, what the conch eat and their predators.
Students will learn how some animals have different life stages, and it varies depending on where they live. Students will learn the importance of camouflage during the early stages of a conch’s life, and they will understand how many ocean animals display various means to protect their young.
Students will learn how queen conch are being protected, the importance of Marine Protected Areas and challenges of conch transplantation and stock recovery.
Importance of ocean currents
Students will learn about conch aquaculture process and understand the importance of aquaculture.
Students learn scientific method by conducting experiments of their own to support or void their hypotheses. Students will also learn how to interpret data, the importance of replication in an experiment, and how scientists design and implement research studies
Male and female conch have identical looking shells. When they are dissected the most notable difference is the verge for the male and egg groove for the female. This dissection will provide an overview of the anatomy of the conch. For more detailed information see:
Little, C. 1965. Notes on the Anatomy of the Queen Conch, Strombus gigas. Bulletin of Marine Science. 15, 2: 338-358.
Follow a step by step conch dissection for male and female adult conch.
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.