Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Only Conch Farm in the World!

 Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, British West Indies is the home of the only Queen Conch farm in the world. These beautiful animals which sport large, whorled pink shells have become an endangered species due to commercial over fishing. Their meat is prized as a subsistence protein, as well as exotic delicacy. 
 Pile of shells outside a well known conch restaurant.

We enjoyed a very well organized talk and tour at the Caicos Conch Farm, and learned about the life cycle and the complexity of raising these beautiful creatures for the tables of the world. 

Breeding stock queen conch

The mature conch are transported to a location where optimal spawning can take place, the eggs gathered, transported back to the farm, placed in a water column for hatching and metamorphosing into the shell forming stage. As the conch grows, it is monitored, fed, and at 4 years of age is ready to be harvested. 
Inside the building are demonstration trays to show us the development of the conch, but small
conch are raised in large pens which sit on the sea bed.

The large pond in the foreground is a water cleaning facility, as no waste water is ever pumped out to sea,  the algaes  that grow there are also used for feeding the conch along with a supplemental feed purchased from Purina. 

In addition to the conch farming operation, the center is now researching deep water fish farming in huge geodesic balls about 80 feet in diameter. The screen surface on the balls keeps the fish in, the waste continually washed away in the deep ocean currents, and predators out. 
To learn more about this fascinating place and theirresearch, visit  http://www.caicosconchfarm.net. 
There is hope!

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