The other day I talked with an expert of conch, Glenn Schwendinger, and I have some information to share with you guys about conch. First of all, we need to know the all the parts, we have the shell, foot, intestines, meat, pearl and other parts.
Uncle Glenn told me that he and other people (Strombus Gigas Association) are trying to protect the conch. If you didn’t know the conch is endangered. And most people use only 10% and throw away 90% of it. Uncle Glenn is working on a way to use the whole conch instead of wasting it. By using the whole animal, the fishermen don’t need to catch more to make a living.
Some ways he uses the parts are, the shell as jewelry, plates, candle holders, salt and pepper shakers, rings, spoons, boules, and just as decoration itself. The shell is also smashed into pieces that are used for concrete and decoration for tiles. The more fine chips of conch (the powder) has carbonate in it and it is used for nutritional supplements for farm animals. Example: when you are preparing an animals meal, you put it in the food of this animal and then they have calcium carbonate in their diet.
• The foot is used for jewelry, wind chimes, and they are used to make structures.
• The intestines are used as fertilizers.
• Fun Fact: An old fisherman’s tale, is that if you eat the enzyme rod (a part of the conchs’ intestines, kinda like our small intestine) raw, you would gain strength.
• The meat is used for food.
• The pearl is used for jewelry. The pearl can be found in 1 out of 10,000 conches. It is a very rare item.
Now I will tell you about its babies.The conch lays 2 to 400,000 eggs per sack. That’s a lot, but as they say, the more babies, the less chance of surviving. Conch babies have less than 1% of surviving. They take 3-5 years to mature. It is illegal to catch conch under 7 inches. The reason why this percentage is so low is because almost everything eats the babies.
There was however a place in Turks and Caicos that used to grow conch in protected national habitats but unfortunately a hurricane took it down. A university in Florida is studying and doing research about cultivating conch. (Growing them)
Some ways people get conch is by free diving. Then was fished out of shallow waters and conch went deeper into the ocean for protection. Now people get conchs with scuba tanks, Which is illegal and dangerous, dangerous because if you go up and down in the water too fast, you get decompression sickness. Decompression sickness is when you get air bubbles in you blood. Once you get this you can die or loose parts of your body. This is why it’s illegal.
You may be wondering “why did the conch get endangered?” That is because it is easy to catch and it tastes good. In coastal areas, people began to overfishing them. The organization that protects endangered animals is C.I.T.E.S. (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) In Belize we are very good at following their rules.
I hope you have learned something new and I encourage you to check out the website from SGA. It is a website uncle Glenn made and has much more information.
Thank you Uncle Glenn!