Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Part Eight 
Our Tour Begins
The Conch Farm

I was up at 6 A.M. Monday morning. We had another continental breakfast in JoJo's Cafe then we were on our way to tour island  of Providenciales on the Concha Woncha Trolley. This turned out to be a private tour since no one else registered today. 

Our fantastic guides were Vanessa  and Desmond.   Vanessa has a Masters Degree in Hospital Administration and Desmond is a professional musician who has played percussion throughout the world. His favorite music is jazz.  Miss Judy is seen here hugging up Desmond.

 Our first stop was a tour of the worlds only conch farm and harvesting facility for conch. As we walked to the farm, there were these sculptured heads.  I forgot to ask about the meaning of this strange garden.

Our guide was Dennis and he explained the life cycle of the Queen Conch.

Below you can see the offshore pens.  The conch are stocked in the offshore pens at 6 cm in size (approximately one year old).  Each pen contains 5000 conch.  The juvenile conch live in a natural sandy habitat and feed on the algal substrate which is supplemented with conch feed.  The pens are designed to exclude predators such as stingrays, porcupine fish and turtles.   At approximately 2.5 years in the pens or at an age of 3-4 years, the conch have reached harvestable size (7-8 inches). 

Conchs are harvested from the pens on a regular basis and the meat and shells are sold.  There are a total of 200 pens which hold an inventory of one million conch.

The Queen Conch grows its own shell and the shell grows with it, unlike a hermit crab, for example, that leaves it shell to find a bigger & better home as it grows. After the larvae go through their metamorphosis, the baby conch, goes to these tanks below to begin real growth.

Sam is checking out a teenage conch.

Oh my, Sam has the conch touch!  This little guy came out of his shell to say "Hello".

The land ponds used for raising the conch contained some young orphaned ......

..green sea turtles.  They will be released as soon as they get to an appropriate size.

The boys got up and personal with two conchs - Sally and Jerry. We even learned how to sex conchs!  While some conchs are hermaphroditic, not so with the Queen conch.  You can research how one can tell.  Being a biology teacher, I am to shy to explain!

The conch has two pairs of long narrow tentacles which are the eye stalks on the head; each of eye stalks can sense a light by using an eyespot. The smaller pair of tentacles is very sensitive on the smell and touch. The conch has a siphonal canal. It is a tube-like structure through which water enters and leaves the body. They also have a foot. Conch move over surfaces using a rippling motion of the foot.

Judy, Vanessa, and Desmond really enjoyed watching the boys interact with the conchs.

As we left the farm and headed to our next stop, I noticed an impressive mountain of conch shells.

Tomorrow's blog - Culture


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