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About The Species

U.S. wild-caught queen conch is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed under a rebuilding plan that allows limited harvest by U.S. fishermen.

Population Level

Significantly below target population levels. Rebuilding plan is in place.

Fishing Status

At recommended level.

Habitat Impact

Primarily harvested by hand, so there is little impact on habitat.

Bycatch

Primarily harvested by hand, so the fishery is very selective and there is little, if any, bycatch.

Status

  • According to the 2009 stock assessment queen conch are overfished, but are not subject to overfishing based on 2013 catch data.
  • Queen conch are in year 10 of a 15-year rebuilding plan.
Appearance
  • Queen conch have a large, conical shell that typically ranges in size from 6 to 9 inches, but can reach a maximum size of 12 inches.
  • The shell has blunt spikes and is typically orange, but often looks gray because it’s covered in algae and debris. The inside of the lip ranges from bright orange to pink.
  • Queen conch have long eye stalks and a large, tube-like mouth (proboscis) that it can pull into its shell if threatened.
  • As older juveniles mature, they develop a large lip on their shell that continues to thicken as the animal ages.
Behavior and Diet
  • Queen conch can live a long time, up to 30 years.
  • They grow up to 12 inches in length and can weigh up to 5 pounds.
  • They are able to reproduce when they reach 3 to 4 years old, when they develop their flared lip.
  • Queen conch spawns from spring through the summer, in shallower water areas with clean coral sand. Both males and females mate with multiple individuals, and eggs are fertilized internally.
  • Females lay long egg masses containing hundreds of thousands of eggs on patches of bare sand or occasionally seagrass. Eggs hatch after about 72 hours.
  • Larval conch feed on plankton before settling to the ocean bottom. Adults feed on algae, incidentally ingesting bits of seagrass, macroalgae, sediment, and small bottom-dwelling animals in the process.
  • Crabs, turtles, sharks, and rays feed on queen conch. 
Location Description

Queen conch are found throughout the Caribbean and in the Gulf of Mexico, south Florida, the Bahamas, and Bermuda.


Management