Beachcombing Turks and Caicos In Search of Conch Shells
Any search for conch shells while beachcombing Turks and Caicos is easily accomplished in the vicinity of a conch shack. Here, conch men work tirelessly at extricating the scrummy sea snails and hurrying them on to the kitchen. Their shells get tossed along the shore or into the shallows, creating mini conch islands in the process.
Picking out a favorite among the pile may be easy, but as we advise about anything you find out in nature along your travels, it’s best to leave conch shells where you find them.
This isn’t because conchs lucky enough to avoid the conch man may want to reuse discarded shells. They don’t do that.
It’s more about staying on the right side of the law and promoting more sustainable conch harvesting practices.
The importation of conch in any form (shell, live animal, meat) into the United States, UK, and elsewhere is either prohibited entirely, or strictly regulated depending on where you’re traveling from. U.S. travelers returning from the Turks & Caicos are actually allowed to bring back up to three conch shells.
Each shell, though, must meet specific size quotas. Oh, and you’ll also need a permit to get your conch shells out of the country.
(For the full list of regulations governing the export of conch shells from the Turks and Caicos, reference the VisitTCI website.)
In short, it’s not the easiest process. Leaving conch shells behind also helps to discourage the criminal underground souvenir trade contributing greatly to the conch’s demise.
So yeah, pick out your conch shell, snap a sweet selfie, put it back on the pile, and continue beachcombing Turks and Caicos responsibly.
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