Reproduction

Conch sex: the male (left) inserts his lengthy verge into the the female via her siphonal notch (8).

Queen conchs make an annual migration inshore each spring to spawn (1). The species reproduces sexually via internal fertilization. In this process, the male inserts his black, contractile, spade-like penis (called a “verge”) into the female’s siphonal notch (1). Sex occurs either day or night during the warmer months (generally March – November) of the year (2).

Within 24 hours of fertilization, the female lays a large, thread-like, sticky egg mass that can contain anywhere from 313,000 to 485,000 eggs (1). She lays this egg mass on the sandy flats of relatively shallow waters where sand particles will stick to the mass, providing both camouflage and physical deterrence from predators (1). In general, females lay their eggs at least 7 m from both the nearest sea grass bed and nearest shoreline because these areas are often accompanied with the highest predation rates (2). The queen conch completes the spawning and correlated migration process with movements back off shore during the autumn months (1).

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