The Botuto (King Conch) of Los Roques.
Among the most attractive aspects for the visitor of the archipelago of Los Roques are the great accumulation of Botuto (Strombus Gigas), which have really made mountains along the shore of many keys in Los Roques.
This evidences its long time importance as a fishing resource.
The capture of Botuto is easy due to its tendency to form large groups in shallow waters and its inability to escape from a successful predator as man.
Up to the mid 80´s the exploitation of Botuto in the archipelago was an alternate activity, the major part was exported to Europe via Martinique and Bonaire. However, since then there has been the concern of a possible over exploitation of the species.
The commercial extinction of this species in other countries of the region (The Grenadines, Puerto Rico and Florida keys) caused a considerate increase in demand and in price, which made many fishing units in the archipelago to dedicate themselves exclusively to the catch of Botuto.
By 1987 the average catch went up to 600 Conches/day/boat with the aggravating circumstance that 87% of the captured population were very young.
As a result in 1991 a total ban was placed on the fishing of Botuto for 3 years which has been extended up to the present.
The majority of fishermen have respected the ban, although the process has not been exempt of clandestine actions and numerous seizures.
BotutoRecent investigation has determined that Botuto population levels have recovered but not as much as to withstand previous fishing levels.
Now fortunately it is possible in the archipelago to enjoy the presence of Botuto all most anywhere now, a situation that is not common in the rest of the Caribbean these days.
This circumstance should be appreciated as a tourist attraction and thus reinforce the protective figure of the national park.
Please do not bring Conches back as souvenirs, when you leave Los Roques.