No matter where you go along the coast of Belize, you see huge conch shells everywhere – polished and on display, heaps on the beach and in the water and used, sometimes, in construction.
The word, by the way, is pronounced CONK here in Belize.
Here at the pretty Conch Shell Inn on Ambergris Caye.
On Tobacco Caye there are so many shells, they are used to construct sea walls.
I am kicking myself now…but for years, I have been wondering WHO would wear the conch shell breasts? JUST LAST WEEK, a taxi driver at the water taxi was sporting them on a short leather cord around his neck. THE CONCH BREASTS! And I didn’t have the guts to ask for a picture.
What a TIME to be shy.
Every first time visitor wants to take one of these giant shells home. Some learn the hard way, that you can not bring one in your carry-on bag. The airport security sees this as a security hazard. It’s not called a conch for nothing.
The harvesting of conch in Belize is a $10 million+ industry but one that needs to be watched very carefully. Countries around the Carribean are worrying about the diminishing conch supplies both for the local fishermen and for the species. The US has even been talking about banning conch imports for a few years now.
Here in Belize, there is a season and an annual quota- usually one million pounds of shell-less cleaned conch. The season is closed from July 1st, re-opening on October 1st.
Belize’s main fishing fleet just last week by the swing bridge in Belize City. Today’s fishing industry in Belize revolves around conch & lobster. I know we sell lobster to Red Lobster, I wonder who buys the exported conch…
The beautiful, sometimes HUGE conch shell is the outside of a pretty ugly sea snail. A mollusk. It reaches it’s maximum length of about a foot in three to five years….which I find pretty miraculous. When it is soft, young and tender, it has quite a few predators but once it grows the hard shell? Very few can get in there.
Even people need practice to extract the conch from his shell.
The only thing that seems to do it with ease is the nurse shark. Who sucks that tender little snail right out of his shell. When they are not busy frolicking around snorkelers.
Don’t worry, they never suck around snorkelers – only frolic.
And Elvi’s Kitchen has one on the menu that is delicious.
Conch fritters are very popular in all of Belize but I almost never order them. They tend to be doughy or oily or…I’m just not the biggest fan. But when they are done right? Like at El Fogon? They are delicious.
A huge plate of mini-fritters done just right.
But maybe if you call ahead and beg? Tell them with great authority that THE SAN PEDRO SCOOP SENT YOU! Maybe they won’t laugh at you and you can get some of this delicious sushi.
DO you think I dropped a big enough hint?
So…HAPPY CONCH SEASON! Let me know what you favorite dishes are.