Large shell with short conical spine and blunt spikes. Orangish exterior with pearly, rosy pink aperature. Pair of long grey eyestalks with with distinctive, yellow eyes and a pair of tentacles below. Foot speckled with black. Large flange along shell apeture.
Seagrass beds and sand from 2 to 30m (6-100ft). Adults are solitary and territorial. The home range for an individual queen conch is variable and has been found to be between 0.15-1.2 hectares.
Feeds primarily on algal plant material in Thalassia (a genus of seagrass) beds and epiphytes from the blades of the turtle grass by moving the proboscis over the surface of the blades and removing epiphytes. They may also feed on the algae from the upper surface of the shells of other conchs.
Differences in the mean speed of the conch are observed seasonally. An increase in speed during the summer is evident among both male and female conches and are said to be linked with factors including temperature change, reproductive season, expanding available food source, predation and other necessary resources. During winter, conchs were few and relatively dormant.
This species has internal fertilization. Females conches lay eggs in the form of gelatinous strings, which measure up to 23m, forming a compact egg mass with the surrounding sand. On average 8-9 egg masses of 180,000-460,000 eggs each can be produced
per season. Embryos hatch 3-4 days after spawning producing a two-lobed larval form of mollusc known as veliger. Embryonic shell
develops to about 1.3 mm high 16-40 days post hatching.
During the first year of life, juvenile conchs remain buried in the sediment. Their shell length measures 50-70mm when they emerge from the sand, typically during the summer months. Shallow seagrass beds are common nursery areas that support an average density of 1000 - 2000 juvenile conchs per hectare. Predation is very high for juveniles as they do not have a hard shell like adults.
| Ecological Descriptors