Artist StatementThis work seeks to highlight the diminishing population of queen conch in the US Virgin Islands, where the species plays a crucial role in maintaining the health of coral reefs. Conch feeds on algae that can smother and kill the reef, and without conch, the reefs become more vulnerable to disease and environmental stress. In the past, conch has been a staple food and a major export for the region; however, overfishing has caused a significant decline in conch populations. The drastic decline in population has not only affected local livelihoods but has disrupted the delicate balance of the marine ecosystem and has had evolutionary effects on the species. Overfishing has led to a decrease in genetic diversity and smaller body sizes due to selective fishing, with smaller individuals reaching maturity faster and having a higher reproductive output, leading to a trend towards smaller, faster-growing conch and cascading effects on the ecosystem.
The TopicEndangered Queen Conch