Queen conch in a seagrass bed
Queen conch are specialized grazers found in seagrass meadows, algal beds, sand flats and around coral reefs as well as the basis of a critical fishery in Belize and throughout the region. Conch take at least 5 years to reach sexual maturity and can be recognized by the thick lip of their shell. Mature males and females copulate resulting in fertilized egg masses extruded by the female. Eggs hatch in about 2 weeks with larvae living in the plankton for 3 to 5 weeks after which they settle in shallow habitats to rejuvenate populations. Queen conch are listed under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) which requires special permits for export of any materials.
Photograph by Gloverís Reef Research Station
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