You’ve had cracked conch, conch salad and conch fritters. But have you ever stopped to think about where those chewy morsels on your plate come from? Find out in the Turks and Caicos Islands at the world’s only conch farm, where you can take a fun and fascinating tour.
Here at the modest operation on the tourist hub of Providenciales, they raise more than 1.5 million of the marine snails a year, most of which are exported to restaurants and supermarkets all over the world. On the tour you’ll watch as trays of the fingernail-sized baby Queen conch, called veligers, are fed by hand. “The average egg mass contains more than half a million conch, but in the wild only one conch will survive,” our tour guide, Richard, told us as he led us through the hatchery and out to the open-water conch beds where the mollusks mature.
The highlight, for adults and little ones alike, was our introduction to longtime residents Sally and Jerry, the farm's “stunt conchs.” The gastropod duo emerges from their algae-covered shells on command, flexing their oversize “feet” and posing for photos as you (carefully!) cradle them. Whether in the palm of your hand or piled high on your plate, the TCI’s most popular protein is definitely not to be missed.