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Writing Sample: Queen Conch

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Text and Photos Copyright Matt Claiborne, 2018.

Queen Conch (Strombus gigas)


No animal epitomizes these islands more than the Queen Conch (pronounced “konk”). These large sea snails are so embedded in island life that they appear on the national coat of arms and all coins and bills. Walking around settlements and beaches, you will see shells everywhere. Piles will be littered around fish cleaning tables, where conchers punch the upper shell to remove the animal to make cracked conch. In less populated areas and in deeper water, you will likely see these unusual creatures pulling their heavy shells around with their large operculum or pointed foot.
Conch eggs only take three days to hatch, and the female can lay up to half a million eggs at a time. As with many ocean species, only a tiny fraction of these eggs will make it to adulthood. Conch begin life as free-swimming larvae with no shell and are known as “veligers.” After two months, conch sink to the bottom and begin metamorphosis. …