Queen Conch


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Mollusca

Class: Gastropoda

Order: Mesogastropoda

Family: Strombidae

Genus: Strombus

Species: gigas


The queen conch is a large, marine, gastropod mollusk.  The queen conch is a large edible sea snail, a marine animal part of the true conch family. Mollusks (meaning soft) are a phylum of invertebrates with over 100,000 known species. Other types of mollusks include oysters, octopus, clams, and squid.

Mollusks are soft bodies animals that may have a hard external shell composed of calcium carbonate, a hard internal shell, or no shell at all. Queen conchs have an external, spiral-shaped shell with a glossy pink or orange interior. The queen conchs are prized for both their edible meat and their attractive shell. Conchs produce natural pearls that come in a range of hues, including white, brown, orange, and pink.


The queen conch is herbivorous and resides on the bottom of the seafloor. They feed on macroalgae, seagrass, and detritus. The green macroalgae is one of its preferred foods.


Queen conchs achieve full size at about 3-5 years of age, growing to a maximum of about 12 inches long and weighing 5 pounds. The queen conch is a long-lived species, generally reaching 20-30 years old, but the lifespan has been estimated as up to 40 years. The queen conch thickens its shell throughout its lifetime. During the first year of life, conchs live under the sand during the day and come out to feed on the surface of the sand at night.


Nurse Sharks
Loggerhead Turtles
Other Snail Species
Blue Crabs
Eagle Rays
Spiny Lobsters
Other Crustaceans


The queen conch lives on sandy substrate, seagrass meadows usually in association with turtle grass, and coral reef habitats. It is found in warm, shallow water and is generally not found deeper than 70 feet.


Queen conchs are with distinctly male or distinctly female and reproduce through internal fertilization. After mating, the females lay long gelatinous strings (up to 75 feet). These strings become egg mass by mixing with the surrounding sand to form compact egg masses. These egg masses  may have been fertilized by multiple males and may contain hundreds of thousands of eggs, which hatch after about 5 days. Lavae then spend about 18-40 days floating and feeding  on plankton before settling to the bottom and metamorphosing into the adult form.  The queen conch reaches sexual maturity at approximately 3-4 years of age.


The queen conch is found throughout the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, and ranges as far north as Bermuda and as far south as Brazil. They are native to the tropical Western Atlantic coasts of North and Central America in the greater Caribbean tropical zone.
The queen conch are vulnerable to overfishing because they are relatively slow to grow, late to mature, aggregate to mate, and are easily harvested in shallow water.


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