Life Cycle

At roughly five days after a spawning event, the eggs hatch as veliger larvae and immediately assume the pelagic lifestyle where they feed primarily on small phytoplankton (1). In this stage, larvae are especially susceptible to filter feeders and grazers who often frequent the surface waters of the ocean looking for their microscopic food source.

Between 17 and 22 days after hatching, the larvae settle into the substrate where they begin their benthic lives. Here, the larvae continue to feed on phytoplankton until metamorphosis (1). Veliger larvae metamorphosis is complete between 28 and 35 days after hatching; at this point, the juveniles are about 2 mm in length (3). This is an extremely decisive stage in the life cycle, as metamorphosis is triggered by certain environmental conditions (believed to be the presence of a certain algae) (3). If these conditions are not met within a week after settlement, the larvae will lose the ability to metamorphose (3).

A sketch of an adult Queen conch (7).

Queen conchs are known to reach an average maximum age of about 6 years, with sexual maturity being attained between 3 and 3.5 years (2). Adults achieve maximum size between 3.5 and 5 years of age, where they can measure up to 30 cm in length and weigh up to 2.3 kg (1).

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