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Conchwander tropical lagoons muching seagrass.

Life Cycle of the Conch
 
 Summary How do we know that?
  • Conch are fast growing marine snails that feed on algae.
  • They move from the shallow water into deeper waters as they grow and return to the shallows to lay eggs.

Conch (pronounced ‘konk’) are a fast growing species of marine snail. They grow from a tiny larva into a snail weighing approximately ¼ lb (0.2 kg) in their first year, and they reach about 4½ lb (2 kg) as adults.  This growth is fueled by a diet of algae.

A conch’s shell grows in a spiral pattern with bumps around the outer surface.  When they are small, these bumps are long and spiky which may confer protection against predators and/or stabilize them in moving water.  These bumps become less pronounced as conch grow, possibly because the larger shell provides more protection and/or their greater mass keeps them steady in the water.

A conch develops into an adult after about 4 years, and as it matures the mantle (body) of the snail pushes on the growing shell, making the opening flare out.  This allows the mature snail to move along with lagoon floor the shell opening flat against the bottom.   The conch’s rapid growth slows after the snail matures.

Conch move into deeper water as they mature, but start the life cycle again by returning to the shallows to lay their eggs.

 References How do we know that?

Catarci, C. (2004). Caribbean queen conch (Strombus gigas). Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Retrieved 8 August 2008 from http://www.fao.org/DOCREP/006/Y5261E/y5261e07.htm

Rhines, C. (2002). Strombus gigas. Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 8 August 2008 from http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Strombus_gigas.html

Wikipedia. (2008, July 23). Conch. Wikipedia. Retrieved 8 August 2008 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strombus

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