Conch Season Opens

Conch season opened several days ago.

Conch season opened several days ago.

I didn’t know we had a conch season here in the Turks and Caicos Islands. I found out yesterday that Conch season opened Oct 15th and will run until July 15. Conch has played an integral part in the islands’ history. The Taino and Lucayan indians subsisted on conch and the Bermudians and American Loyalists also fished for conch for their food as this was a cheap food source rich in protein. Conch from the Turks and Caicos Islands was actively traded with Haiti on board Caicos-built sloops. Millions of conch were dried and shipped reaching a peak in 1943 when 3.9 million conchs were exported

Conch assembly line on the beach in Blue Hills

Conch assembly line on the beach in Blue Hills

Using a small hammer with a pointed head, the conch is “knocked” with a hole between the second and third row of nodes on the shell’s spire and this provides access to the tendon that holds the animal in its shell. The animal can then be pulled out by its claw which is removed with a fileting knife along with some tough skin and knobs.

The conch is "knocked" and the animal removed from the shell.

The conch is "knocked" and the animal removed from the shell. The translucent "rod" can be seen against the pink of the shell.

The long, translucent  and gelatinous rod know locally as “the pistol” or nature’s own Viagra is pulled out. This is quickly eaten as it is purported to be an aphrodisiac.

To many, this is the best part of the conch!!

To many, this is the best part of the conch!!

On a really good day, about 1,000 conch can be harvested. In recent years a quota for export has been set at 1.6 million pounds which does not include the shells. Some of the discarded shells are used by local crafts persons to create some lovely looking gifts for our visitors to take back home for family and friends.

Conch shells lined up and ready for sale in Blue Hills.

Conch shells lined up and ready for sale in Blue Hills.

Enjoy a selection of conch dishes when you are in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Are you brave enough to eat “the pistol”?????
Marta
This entry was posted in Animals, Conch, Flora and Fauna, History, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos History, Turks and Caicos Islands and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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