From Academic Kids


A conch shell
Scientific classification

See text

The genus Strombus is made up of the true conches (pronounced "Konk") in the family Strombidae. A conch is a sea creature, a mollusk, and more specifically, a marine gastropod. Still, it should be noted that many other gastropods have common names using conch, such as the Horse Conch (Pleuroploca gigantea).

While most Strombid species are extinct, at least 65 species are living. Of these, most are in the Indo-Pacific Oceans while six are in the greater Caribbean region. Living true conch species include the Queen Conch, Strombus gigas, and the West Indian Fighting Conch (Strombus pugilis).

Strombus gigas is included in Appendix II of the UNEP's CITES list of endangered species and international trade is heavily restricted.[1] (



Conches have have spirally constructed shells. Depending on species (or aberrant growth patterns), shell growth can be sinistral (left-handed) or dextral (right-handed).

Conches have long eye stalks, a long and narrow aperture, and a siphonal canal with an indentation near the anterior end called a stromboid notch. They also have a foot ending in a pointed, sickle-shaped, horny operculum. They grow a flared lip on their shells upon reaching sexual maturity.

Conches have a characteristic leaping motion, using their pointed, sickle-shaped, horny operculum to propel themselves forward. They lay eggs in long, gelatinous strands.

Human use

The animal inside the shell is eaten, either raw, as in salads, or cooked, as in fritters, chowders, gumbos, and burgers.

Conch shells are sometimes used as crude bugles by removal of the small tip of the shell to form a mouthpiece, as decoration, as decorative planters, ground up to be used as an ingredient in porcelain, and in cameo making. In classic Mayan art, conches are shown being utilized in many ways including as paint and ink holders for elite scribes, as bugle or trumpet, and as hand weapons (held by combatants by inserting their hands in the aperature).

In some countries cleaned Strombus gigus shells are sold to tourists as souvenirs. Without a permit however, export is a breach of CITES regulations and may lead to arrest. This is most likely to occur on return to the tourist's home country while clearing customs.

Conch shells are occasionally used as a building material, either in the place of bricks or as bulk for landfill.

Playing the conch shell

While lacking the range capabillities and tone quality of other brass instruments, the conch shell is still a fun instrument to play. Having no mouthpiece or valves the Embouchure in shell playing is critical. Most shells will only naturally play one note, but with pitch manipulations multiple sounds can be achieved.

The conch as religious symbolism

The Conch in Hindu Tradition

The conch is a major Hindu article of prayer, used as a trumpeting announcement of all sorts. The God of Preservation, Vishnu, is said to hold a special conch, Panchajanya, that represents life as it has come out of life-giving waters. The warriors of ancient India would blow conchs to announce battle, such as is famously represented in the beginning of the war of Kurukshetra in the Mahabharata, the famous Hindu epic. The conch shell is a deep part of Hindu symbolic and religious tradition. To this very day, all Hindus use the conch as a part of their religious practices, blowing it during worship at specific points, accompanied by ceremonial bells.

The Conch in Buddist Tradition

Buddhism also has incorporated the conch into its symbolism. See: Buddhist symbolism.


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