The Pink or Queen Conch (Strombus gigas), can grow to be a foot or more in length and has a smooth pink interior. The shell is in danger of disappearing because of its collection as a beautiful decoration and for using the animal to eat!
Have you ever eaten conch? I have not. In Florida and other Caribbean areas, the conch is a delicacy and is made into fritters and other food, but it has been over fished so there are restrictions and fines associated with the collecting of it. Conch meat is used in chowder, salads, fried, fritters, sandwiches and more. Check out this menu which features conch, at the Lazy Days Restaurant on Islamorada in the Florida Keys.
For these two reasons, the Queen or Pink conch is in high demand. It is very unlikely that you will just come across a large, empty queen conch on the beach. They are trawled and taken from their homes far out in the ocean and brought in for shell shops and restaurants. My conch (pictured here) was purchased over 20 years ago at a shell shop some place in Florida. At the time, I never thought about where it came from, but I would definitely not purchase one now.
So when you vacation in the tropics, you might want to think twice before ordering conch fritters just to be able to say you’ve tried it.
*More strange food they eat in Florida – Alligator and turtle. I lived across the street from some people who had a cookout and the food was served buffet style. I added to my plate what looked like chicken nuggets and fortunately I was told that it was turtle meat before I tried it. Yikes, that was close. I love the Gopher turtles and could never ever eat one!