The Queen 

On a recent trip to one of my favorite beaches, Maho Bay, here on St. John, I came across a few conch shells. Conch (pronounced ‘konk’) is a saltwater snail that varies in size. The larger species are known as the Queen Conch and can be found in waters surrounding these Virgin Islands. The Queen conch can live up to 30 years and it is best known for its colorful shell. They are usually various shades of pinks, yellows, and or oranges with a glossy finish.

Here in the Virgin Islands the conch shell has been used as a horn; blown to signify freedom. This practice came about at the end of slavery during the colonial era. For years the shells have also been used decoratively; they can be seen around graves in cemeteries or on construction sites as buildings material. Conch has been a local delicacy throughout the Caribbean. It’s one of my all time favorite dishes! Often included in fritters, stews, salads, patés and many other local dishes. Because of this, overfishing is a very serious issue.

If you remember in my earlier post I introduced you to my sister, Aariyah, the artist! She’s been working on a painting series based on the conch shell. Here’s one of her pieces…

The queen conch has economic, environmental, historical, and cultural value to the U.S. Virgin Islands. That is why this series is so important!


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