The Queen Conch produces a large spiral shell with “spines” on it. These spines are thought to be for protection, but to human touch they are dull and non-threathening. The conch’s shell has a wide lip that has a rich pink color. Inside the shell is where the head stays which has two pairs of tentacles– one provides eyes and the other provides the sense of touch and smell. Visible at the lip of the shell is the conch’s large foot.
Instead of gliding through the sand, the conch performs a “hopping” movement by thrusting it’s foot against the ocean floor which causes the shell to rise, and then throwing itself forward. The queen conch is found to be most active at night to feed on algae.
Once upon a time, the waters of Key West flourished with queen conchs. Unfortunately, due to over-fishing, it is now illegal to commercially and recreationally harvest this animal in the States.
Nowadays, the queen conch’s shell is prized by tourists, but was previously valued for its meat.
When you come to Key West, come on down to Mallory Square and visit the Key West Aquarium where you can interact with a live Queen Conch in our Touch Tank. You can also blow a Conch horn when you travel to the top of the Key West Shipwreck Museum, and while you’re in the square, make sure to check out the Conch Fritter Stand and try our islands favorite food!