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Some people just can’t get enough…

By Catherine | 21 June 2011 | No Comments
Published in Exuma Cays Expedition 2011

Hello fellow Conchophiles!

This is my first (ever) blog-post, believe it or not.  Be nice.  This is not my first time, however, visiting Lee Stocking Island (LSI).  I had the good fortune of living and working here back in the early 1990s.  From 1990 to 1993, I participated in all kinds of cool aquatic and fishery science stuff – tilapia aquaculture, the behavioral ecology of mutton snapper, water temperature changes related to coral bleaching events, a trawl survey of suprabenthic fishes associated with seagrass beds on the shallow banks – you name it.  Needless to say, the experience changed my life.  And now here I am, 20 years later, relivin’ the day, zippin’ around the cays, sportin’ my ancient Caribbean Marine Research Center t-shirts – all with the blessings of my family.  I’m a lucky guy…

Today, Adric Olson and I were tasked with the morning’s deep dive offshore of LSI.  The sea conditions were a bit sloppier than our previous outings.  We had one swell come in at about 7 ft with most in the 4+ ft range.  Catherine and Marc were blessed with being topside (sorry guys!) while Adric and I blew bubbles below.   At a depth of about 75 ft, we found our first mating pairs of conch.  Three pairs, in fact.  Yeah!  We also found just shy of a dozen adults dragging themselves about in the sand.  It was a welcome site, especially since we haven’t seen too many of our study organisms around these parts save for pockets of juveniles here-and-there on the flats.

After a fine lunch of burritos – Booker booked us back in no-time flat for those – and a quick nap, we hit the lab to practice working up some adults for the reproductive biology aspect of the study.  This involved cracking the conch open, removing the whole animal (not as easy as it sounds), and dissecting the gonad (again, not as easy as it sounds).  Along the way, we took various measurements of lengths (total shell and shell lip thickness) and weights (total soft tissue and gonad) of parts to be analyzed later.  We finished up with just enough time to get cleaned up for dinner (Thank you, Sue!).

That’s it for now – stick a fork in me – I’m done for today.  Thanks for checking in on our progress.   More shall be revealed…

Karl

Karl and Martha practice dissecting a conch. photo by C. Booker

A female conch lays eggs in the sand. The eggs are actually the sandy spaghetti-looking mass to the left of her eye. photo by C. Booker

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deep water conch

The Queen Conch lives an average of 7 years, but may live over 30 years in the deep waters of protected habitats.

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