The Natural and Cultural History of the Queen Conch (Draft #1)

This discussion topic submitted by Mark Pedelty ( at 10:14 pm on 4/20/99. Additions were last made on Wednesday, May 7, 2014.

The Natural and Cultural History of the Queen Conch (Draft #1)

[note: Yes, I recognize that I previously submitted a proposal for a talk concerning the Political Ecology of Piracy, but that is old news. I have become fascinated by a new topic, the Queen Conch]

I have just begun to gather materials on the Queen Conch, but preliminary reading indicates that she has been over-harvested. The Conch is prized as a food item, source of material for jewelry, and mantle decoration. There are now special hatcheries and protected areas to bring the Queen populations back. Much of the research literature deals with these efforts, either directly (e.g., how to protect) or indirectly (e.g., the effects of toxins, growth rates, predation, etc.).

As one who studies Mexican history and culture, I find the Conch fascinating. The Aztec began almost every major ceremony by blowing the Conch trumpet to each of the cardinal directions. The god of water, Tlaloc, was revered by many Mesoamerican civilizations. The caracol (snail), usually in the form of a Conch, was the most important glyph symbol representing he and his domain, Tlalocan. Small children, representing rain makers, or Tlaloque, were sacrificed to assure the continuation of the rain-drought cycle of life in the Central Valley of Mexico. This was a powerful little snail.

I will begin the talk with an overview of Conch anatomy, life cycle and ecology, before moving on to its historical uses and abuses. I will begin the talk with a contest to determine who among us is the Queen of the Conch blowers.

Questions for Hays or anyone else who knows these things:

1) Are there Conchs around the research station, or are they fairly rare on outside of the "mariculture facilities" where they are bred and protected?
2) Can I (and should I) purchase a Conch trumpet in the Bahamas? I imagine it is not a good idea to transport mine from Oxford.
3) Why is it that there are no large freshwater snails or clams? What limits their growth in lakes?


(note: Lest I be charged with academic fraud, this is just pasted from a data base search. I will be cleaning it up, organizing it, reading a focused sampling of the articles, and annotating the Bibliography soon.)

1.Variation in natural mortality: implications for queen conch stock enhancement. Stoner, Allan W. Bulletin of Marine Science v. 62 no2 (Mar. '98) p. 427-42
2.Settlement and recruitment of queen conch, Strombus gigas, in seagrass meadows: associations with habitat and micropredators. Stoner, Allan W. Fishery Bulletin v. 96 no4 (Oct. '98) p. 885-99
3.Overview of diets used in larviculture of three Caribbean conchs: queen conch Strombus gigas, milk conch Strombus costatus and fighting conch Strombus pugilis. Aldana-Aranda,
Dalila. Aquaculture v. 167 no3-4 (Sept. 1 '98) p. 163-78
4.Effects of photoperiod on development, growth and survival of larvae of the fighting conch
Strombus pugilis in the laboratory. Manzano, Nancy Brito. Aquaculture v. 167 no1-2 (Aug. 1
'98) p. 27-34
5.Role of chemical inducers in larval metamorphosis of queen conch, Strobmus gigas
Linnaeus: relationship to other marine invertebrate systems. Boettcher, Anne A. The
Biological Bulletin v. 194 no2 (Apr. '98) p. 132-42
6.The status of queen conch, Strombus gigas, research in the Caribbean. Stoner, Allan W.
Marine Fisheries Review v. 59 no3 ('97) p. 14-22
7.Nutritional potentialities of Chlamydomonas coccoides and Thalassiosira fluviatilis, as
measured by their ingestion and digestion rates by the Queen conch larvae (Strombus
gigas). Aldana-Aranda, Dalila. Aquaculture v. 156 (Oct. 14 '97) p. 9-20
8.Mariculture and enhancement of wild populations of queen conch (Strombus gigas) in the
western Atlantic. Iversen, Edwin S. Bulletin of Marine Science v. 60 (May '97) p. 929-41
9.Hydrogen peroxide induced metamorphosis of queen conch, Strombus gigas: tests at the
commercial scale. Boettcher, Anne A. Aquaculture v. 148 (Jan. 15 '97) p. 247-58
10.Queen conch, Strombus gigas, in fished and unfished locations of the Bahamas: effects of a
marine fishery reserve on adults, juveniles, and larval production. Stoner, Allan W.
Fishery Bulletin v. 94 (July '96) p. 551-65
11.Interaction of physical and biological factors in the large-scale distribution of juvenile
queen conch in seagrass meadows. Stoner, A. W. Bulletin of Marine Science v. 58 (Jan. '96)
p. 217-33
12.Developmental plasticity in the shell of the queen conch Strombus gigas. Martn-Mora,
Elizabeth. Ecology v. 76 (Apr. '95) p. 981-94
13.Effect of algal food and feeding schedule on larval growth and survival rates of the queen
conch, Strombus gigas (Mollusca, Gastropoda), in Mexico. Garca Santaella, Eduardo.
Aquaculture v. 128 (Dec. 15 '94) p. 261-8
14.Size-specific predation of juvenile queen conch Strombus gigas: implications for stock
enhancement. Ray, Melody. Aquaculture v. 128 (Dec. 1 '94) p. 79-88
15.Experimental outplanting of juvenile queen conch, Strombus gigas: comparison of wild and
hatchery-reared stocks. Stoner, Allan W. Fishery Bulletin v. 92 (Apr. '94) p. 390-411
16.Structure and optics of the eye of the hawk-wing conch, Strombus raninus (L.). Seyer,
Jan-Olof. The Journal of Experimental Zoology v. 268 (Mar. 1 '94) p. 200-7
17.Queen conch, Strombus gigas, reproductive stocks in the central Bahamas: distribution and
probable sources. Stoner, Allan W. Fishery Bulletin v. 92 (Jan. '94) p. 171-9
18.Aggregation dynamics in juvenile queen conch (Strombus gigas): population structure,
mortality, growth, and migration. Stoner, A. W. Marine Biology v. 116 no4 ('93) p. 571-82
19.Ontogenetic shift in habitat by early juvenile queen conch, Strombus gigas: patterns and
potential mechanisms. Sandt, Veronique J. Fishery Bulletin v. 91 (July '93) p. 516-25
20.Monitoring marine resources: ecological and policy implications affecting the scientific
collecting and commercial value of New England conch (Busycon). Kaplan, Ilene M. The
Biological Bulletin v. 183 (Oct. '92) p. 379-80
21.Genetic patchiness among populations of queen conch Strombus gigas in the Florida Keys
and Bimini. Campton, Donald E. Fishery Bulletin v. 90 (Apr. '92) p. 250-9
22.Experimental analysis of habitat quality for juvenile queen conch in seagrass meadows.
Stoner, Allan W. Fishery Bulletin v. 89 (Oct. '91) p. 693-700
23.Seasonality in reproductive activity and larval abundance of queen conch Strombus gigas.
Stoner, Allan W. Fishery Bulletin v. 90 (Jan. '92) p. 161-70
24.Distribution and behavior of queen conch Strombus gigas relative to seagrass standing
crop. Stoner, Allan W. Fishery Bulletin v. 88 no3 ('90) p. 573-85
25.Evidence of survival value related to burying behavior in queen conch Strombus gigas.
Iversen, Edwin S. Fishery Bulletin v. 88 no2 ('90) p. 383-7
26.Population structure, larval dispersal, and gene flow in the queen conch, Strombus gigas, of
the Caribbean. Mitton, Jeffry B. The Biological Bulletin v. 177 (Dec. '89) p. 356-62
27.Queen among molluscs: the hop, hop, hopping conch. Iversen, Edwin S. Oceans v. 17
(Jan./Feb. '84) p. 30-3

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