I’ve Seen That – Lobatus gigas
This cool creature is the Queen Conch (pronounced konk), otherwise known as Lobatus gigas. Divers must be very patient when trying to take their photos. These animals quickly withdraw their beady eyes back into their shells upon approach. Queen conchs are also a commercially important species to the culture and fisheries of the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean and may be harvested from non-protected areas during the winter months outside their breeding season. The body and large foot are edible and part of many great Caribbean dishes and the shells are prized for jewelry making.
Here’s more you should know about Queen Conchs:
- In the same Mollusca family as clams, octopus, and squid.
- Also a member of the marine Gastropod (from “belly foot” in Latin) family. They have a single claw-like device at the end of their feet that they use to defend themselves.
- May grow up to 12-inches long and live up to 40 years.
- Quite interesting to watch them move—their eyes come out, they go in, then the foot reaches out and pulls them forward quite ungracefully.
- Are herbivores, dining on marine algae, grasses, and other detritus.
Learn more about our marine environment and creatures from Katie Correia, Science and education manager at Central Caribbean Marine Institute, Little Cayman Research Center. For more info on the CCMI, visit www.reefresearch.org.