How Long Can a Conch Live Outside of Water

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Due to their impressive shells, conch snails are among the most beautiful creatures. When found on the beach, it may be tempting to pick up these shells and take them home with you, but they may still be alive and won’t survive long on land. If you remove them from water for too long, they will die, so you must know how to collect them safely.

A conch can live outside of water for a few hours. However, it must be kept moist, as once the conch snail dries out, it will no longer be able to survive outside of water. It is, therefore, essential that you take proper precautions when moving a conch.

Here’s everything you need to know about collecting conches, from keeping them alive to collecting them safely. It’s essential to research these beautiful creatures before collecting them, as they’ll quickly perish when away from their environment. So stick around!

Can a Conch Survive On Land?

A conch can survive on land for a short while, but it depends on the conditions it’s kept in. If your conch is in a particularly drying environment, such as a sunny spot or unsheltered from the wind, it’ll dry out much faster, causing it to die quickly.

However, if there’s moisture in the area, the conch can survive for a few hours. 

For example, if the conch is resting on the sand near the sea, it can use the moisture from the waves and sand to survive until the tide pulls it back to the sea. However, a conch far away from the shore may have been intentionally moved and may need to return to its home.

If you intend to move the conch, then your best chance of keeping it alive is to provide it with moisture. 

If you have a bucket, you can fill this with seawater to keep the snail moist. If not, you should find something that can absorb water, like a towel, and soak it in water to allow the snail to remain in and stay alive.

How Long Can a Conch Survive When Removed From Water?

A conch has the potential to survive outside of water for many hours, but this depends on how moist the snail inside the shell is, so it’s essential to get it back into the water as quickly as possible. 

A conch will retreat into its shell to retain moisture, but this won’t provide a secure barrier for long. And once the moisture is gone, the creature will die. 

The conch is native to the ocean, so you won’t be able to keep it alive in fresh water. You must get it back to the sea as quickly as possible to ensure its best chance at survival, so you don’t want to keep one in your home. 

The conch has very specific conditions for survival, and all of its needs can be met in the sea, so it’s best not to remove it. But if you’ve noticed someone else removed it, you may want to put it carefully back into the ocean.

When returning a conch to the sea, be extremely careful to protect its shell. Carry it with great care, and don’t place it in a bag or anything that might move it around too much. When you get to the sea, place it gently into the shallow waters. 

Don’t attempt to throw it into the deeper water, as this could damage the shell and hurt the creature inside.

Can You Keep a Conch?

This answer varies depending on where you live and the rules they have in place to protect their wildlife and the environment. 

In the United States, where conches are native to Florida, the collection of the creature has been banned due to a rapid decline in the population, damaging the ecosystem. It’s also illegal to import the living part of a conch, alive or dead, into the United States from abroad.

In some areas of the Caribbean, you can collect a conch from the beach, and in fact, locals use them for a vast array of purposes. Conch meat is very popular in the Bahamas, and the shell is useful for jewelry and crafting. 

However, that doesn’t mean you should take them. The rules against taking them are in place for the safety of yourself and the conch population.

The collection and hunting of conches in the Bahamas are causing an environmental crisis that the authorities are struggling to curb. Due to their rarity elsewhere in the world, it’s common for tourists to travel to the region and take a conch shell home as a souvenir.

It’s vital to remember that these are living creatures that struggle to survive due to collectors removing them from beaches.

Conditions When You Can Keep a Conch

You can keep a conch shell from the Bahamas when there’s no conch inside, and the shell is cracked. 

However, an unclean conch shell can cause harm to humans, so there are safer options available. Knowing how to clean and preserve a conch shell is a vital skill for shell collectors and can come in handy for many types of shells.

There are plenty of gift shops that sell conch shells, which can be a great way to get a souvenir from your trip, as you know that the shell has been safely cleaned and legally obtained. If you’re purely interested in creating a collection of shells, then this can be a great way to get a shell without any legal or health risks.

If you prefer the satisfaction of finding and keeping your own shell, you should approach this with plenty of caution. 

The shell must be adequately cleaned, and you should be wary of removing a shell that still has a conch in it, even if it is dead. If you try and take a conch out of the Bahamas without the proper precautions, you may find that security confiscates the item, as it could pose a public health issue.

How To Properly Clean a Conch Shell

If you decide to collect a conch shell from the beach and take it home with you, there are a few steps you can take to ensure that it is as clean as possible before trying to move it.

  1. Soak the shell in clean water to encourage any dirt to separate from the inside of the shell. 
  2. Create a weak bleach solution of about one part bleach to four parts water and soak the shell in this solution. 
  3. After about 24 hours, remove the shell from the bleach and rinse it carefully with clean water. If there is still visible dirt on the shell, carefully use a small brush to remove the debris from the conch shell and leave it to air dry.

For more information on cleaning shells, look at our helpful guide: How to Clean Seashells – The Ultimate Guide. It has everything you need to know about keeping your shells in the best condition possible, no matter the shell.

Here is a helpful YouTube video to show you how to properly clean your conch shells without damaging the shell.

How To Avoid Damaging Your Conch Shell

A conch shell is a delicate object, so you can’t just place it in your suitcase when traveling. You will need to take adequate precautions. The more protection you can give to your conch shell, the better condition it will be in once you get home.

Here’s how to pack your shell when going home from your vacation:

  1. Place a conch inside a small box. This adds an extra layer between the shell and the rest of your luggage, preventing it from being destroyed by a baggage handler who has no idea they’re dealing with precious cargo.
  2. Pad the empty space in the box with soft materials. Some of the best options that are easily available to you are tissues, sponges, or even some of your socks. The most important thing is that the conch is well-protected and less likely to break in transit.

Final Thoughts

Conches are beautiful creatures, but they are best left alone. This doesn’t mean you can’t collect their shells, as there are plenty of ways to buy safely and legally obtained conch shells. 

There’s no reason to put yourself at risk for the sake of your collection.

If you have your sights set on collecting your own shell, ensure that you have properly researched the subject to ensure that you are doing what is in the best interests of your safety and the environment. 

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to tips on finding and collecting precious items. Inspired by reading countless adventurer reports from the oldtimers, Alex is passionate about discovering hidden treasures and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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