Unique on the planet, the Caicos Conch Farm is certainly an interesting place. Damage caused by hurricanes a few years ago continues to be unrepaired and the site no longer produces much conch. Today, the Conch Farm mainly functions as a tourist attraction.
4 star rating for Caicos Conch Farm by Visit Turks and Caicos Islands
The Caicos Conch Farm on Providenciales is the world's only conch farm. After Hurricane Ike struck the island in 2008, much of the facility was destroyed and commercial production has reduced significantly, although the farm is still open for visitors.
The Caicos Conch Farm was started in 1984 by Chuck Hesse, a retired U.S. Naval Officer and marine biologist. He pioneered methods to raise conch commercially, which helped relieve pressure on the wild stocks. The farms raises Queen Conch (strombus gigas), the common species of conch eaten in the islands.
The farming process starts with collecting egg masses in the wild. In the wild, on average only one egg out of the 500,000 in an egg mass matures into an adult. Raising the eggs in a controlled environment leads to a greatly improved success rate.
In the hatchery, the eggs are hatched, and metamorphosis from larvae into post-larva, when they are essentially conchs about 1 mm in size (1/24”).
The hatchery dome at the Caicos Conch Farm.
Afterwards, they are transferred outside into pans until they are juveniles (approximately one year). Then, they are transferred into pens in the ocean.
They are fed a mixture of algae (grown on-site), imported feed and by-products from the local brewery.
Tours are individually guided small groups and take about 30 minutes tour. Costs are $10 for adults and $5 for children.
Sally and Jerry, male and female conchs, are on display for a hands-on show and tell.
There’s a nice gift shop on the premises, which sells a wide range of locally produced conch souvenirs.
The Caicos Conch Farm is switching focus from conch farming to fish farming. At this time, it’s not sure if commercial conch farming will continue long-term.