Queen Conch and Sea Vegetables

Florida Atlantic: Queen Conch and Sea Vegetables

Producing Sustainable Seafood in Puerto Rico

Megan Davis, Ph.D., research professor at FAU Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, along with partners Conservación ConCiencia and the Naguabo Fishing Association, have been hatching and cultivating queen conch at the Naguabo Aquaculture Center in Puerto Rico since 2019 through funding from NOAA Fisheries. The hatchery benefits the local economy with the goal to help restore conch populations.

In addition to producing juvenile queen conch, grant funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agriculture Research Service and Puerto Rico Sea Grant allows Davis and partners to create an aquaponic system to grow sea vegetables using the nutrients produced by the queen conch and other animals. Native varieties of sea asparagus (Salicornia bigelovii), sea purslane (Sesuvium portulacastrum) and saltwort (Batis maritima) are grown using a nutrient film technique, which is a popular hydroponic growing system where the plants’ roots receive a continuous stream of dissolved nutrients from animals being cultivated in the aquaculture system.

The two funding sources have separate, important objectives, she said.

“The goal of the USDA project is to grow this edible product that’s getting its nutrients from queen conch, fighting conch and lobsters, to grow for culinary purposes,” Davis said. “For the Sea Grant project, it’s not just the edible side, but also coastal restoration; helping to stabilize sand dunes.”

If you would like more information, please contact us at dorcommunications@fau.edu.