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Queen Conch Shell

Queen conch (Aliger gigas), also called pink conch, are found throughout the sea grass beds and coral reefs of the Caribbean, the Bahamas, and Bermuda. A. gigas has previously been classified as Strombus gigas and Lobatus gigas, and is a member of the family Strombidae, the true conches. These large mollusks can reach up to 12 inches in length over their 40 year lifespan, and are highly valued for their meat even today. Current conservation efforts, such as the recently proposed listing of the species as Threatened or Endangered, seek to prevent over-harvesting.

While the original contents of the five queen conch shells found at Jamestown may well have been eaten, the presence of three complete shells likely relates to a gentlemanly fascination with collecting and displaying curiosities related to the natural world, faraway places, and history. Found in early contexts such as the First Well, these shells may have arrived in Jamestown on the Sea Venture as souvenirs of their nine months shipwrecked on Bermuda in 1609-1610.