Conch

The conch is a kind of mollusk or marine snail. In the water, the conch is not particularly colorful.  It sits on the seabed, preferably in grass, and propels itself by its single foot.  A swimmer sees only its top, not the pearl of the inner lip.  When the shell is cleaned and polished, it glows with an array of pink and peach tones.

Conch have been used as everything from musical instruments to building material, but the most frequent use is as food.  Learning how to get to the inner animal is a challenge.  The animal is attached to the shell by its abductor muscle.  This muscle is located between the third and fourth ring in the top of the shell.  The goal is to break through the shell, cut the muscle, and pull the animal out by its foot or claw.  Because the animal is basically one large muscle, this whole process must occur quickly so that the animal does not have time to withdraw and tighten itself deep in the shell.

The Bahamian technique is to whack a hole in the end near the abductor, slip in a knife, quickly cut the muscle, and immediately yank the animal out.   Practice makes this process take a matter of seconds.