Explore the only conch farm in the world, yes where Caribbean Queen conchs are raised from veliger to adult. Here you can watch how the process is done, enjoy a show with the two trained and very friendly conchs, see conch pearls and even purchase fresh conch for a fabulous conch salad.
Conch is quickly becoming a rising star food with top chefs from the USA and round the World choosing to use Turks and Caicos Conch Farmed products in their new dishes. The Conch Farm specialises in exporting the conch including Pacific Rim, Ocean Escargot and Island Princess Conch and claims to raise the only “Caribbean Queens fit for a King”.
Come learn about the life cycle of the Queen conch, from egg mass to harvested adult. You will see first hand the processes and technology the only commercial conch farm in the world has neweloped over the past 20 years. The tour will start in the gift shop with a quick biology lesson and a description of our hatchery technology, from there the tour takes the guests through the Metamorphosis buildings and the Post Larval facilities. Guests are then able to bend over and pick up one of the farms 2 million conch housed in the onshore ponds. The offshore pasture, filled with circular pens to rear the conch until they are harvested, serves as the backdrop to the entire tour. The tour ends up with Sally and Jerry, the resident wild conch, who are brought out to give guests a good photo opportunity to take home to friends and family.
All tour leaders are local Turks Islanders who can provide wonderful insights to local culture as well as recommendations for dining or leisure spots on the island.
The queen conch, scientifically Strombus gigas, has been a staple of the Caribbean for at least a thousand years. Its meat provides a major source of protein for the region, while its shell has been used for tools, weapons, jewelry, ceremonial objects, and as a construction material. Over-fishing has depleted wild stocks of conch; today it is now listed on the CITES Appendix II, as a commercially endangered species. Despite Caribbean-wide country quotas on harvesting wild conch, the remaining conch population continues to decline rapidly as over-fishing continues. Conch harvests are a major source of food and income for many local people, and without a source of replacement income they continue to harvest conch. Twenty years ago sixteen Caribbean/Latin American countries exported conch to the world market place; today only three still have commercial quantities of wild conch to offer to the market place.
In 1984, Chuck Hesse, TWI’s founder and CEO, realized the potential to simultaneously help the environment, employ local fishermen, and generate profitable returns by farming conch.
TWI’s goals are to expand conch production at its farm in the Turks & Caicos and to license grow-out farms throughout the Caribbean. Achieving these goals will increase supply and reduce production and shipping costs. Once adequate supply is established, TWI will expand its marketing into Asia, where conch is in high demand, both for its nutritional benefits and acknowledged cultural and aphrodisiac properties.
While achieving its goals, TWI will continue research to lower the cost to produce farmed conch below that of harvesting it from the wild. History has shown that once farmed product is in the marketplace at prices lower than that of wild conch, the wild stocks will be able to recover.