Shell Size and Age of Mollusk: Queen Conch

two queen conchs pngMy mind has really been on boating and the water lately but now I am back to thinking about seashells, specifically the queen conch (Strombus gigas) and the creatures who live in them.

Someone who read my  Seashell Identification page at Wizzley asked  how old my conch shell was.  I have a picture posted on my page and she said that her shell looked like mine.

I get all kinds of questions now about seashells and I am not an expert, but I try to find the answer if I can.  It seems that the Queen conch reaches it’s mature size by age five, but it can live up to 30 (sometimes 40) years!  Therefore the size of the shell would not necessarily be an indicator of it’s age. Once the shell reaches a certain size it can become thicker, but not larger in general.

I bought my two large conch shells probably twenty years ago. I would no longer buy a shell like this.  In fact, they (and the animal inside) are protected now.  Do not ever collect one from the wild!   Not only is it illegal, you would be contributing to their decline.  In their natural habitat, the queen conch – or pink conch – lives in warm, shallow water and can be found among reefs, but maybe not for long.  Due to it’s beautiful shell and the tasty (supposedly) critter inside, too many queen conchs have been harvested over the years leaving the population of this magnificent mollusk in decline.

If you ever see a living pink conch, get the camera, photograph it, and then leave it in peace.  And don’t order conch from the menu!