Conquer the Future
Queen Conch (Aliger gigas) used to be very common in the Caribbean bays. In places like Lac Bay in Bonaire and Spaanse Water in Curaçao, there used to be lots of Queen Conch. Due to fishing pressure and habitat loss, the Queen Conch is now a threatened species all over the Caribbean. The project ‘Conquer the Future’ aims to strengthen the natural Queen Conch population in Bonaire and Curaçao, by releasing young, cultured conchs. The Queen Conch Hatchery at the Curaçao Sea Aquarium breeds these conchs.
We release the young conch in small numbers into the ocean onto seagrass. Seagrass beds are the best living environment for these snails. Queen conch feed on small algae and other organisms that live on the seagrass, which keeps the seagrass healthy. Juvenile conch in particular eat dead organic material in addition to small algae, so they are useful tiny cleaners! Seagrass captures CO2 up to 35 times faster than rainforests! Therefore, we must maintain a healthy conch population to keep the natural cycle of the seagrass beds in balance.
Tags with transmitters are placed on the cultured juvenile conch to monitor their growth and survival in the ocean. Once we gain more understanding, we can release more conchs to strengthen the population. To achieve our goals, we collaborate with local fishers represented by the cooperatives PISKABON in Bonaire and FKUP in Curaçao. This project is financed by WWF-NL and Seacology, and conducted under the supervision of STINAPA.