Gong gong/Spider conch
Scientific Name: Lambis lambis
Gong gong are generally associated with algae and macroalgae and are commonly found between 0-5m depths. Like most other species in the Strombid family, Gong gong are distributed throughout the tropical Indo-Pacific region.
Lambis lambis are from the Strombidae family, with long eye stalks, a long and narrow aperture and a siphonal canal with an indentation near the anterior end called a stromboid notch. There are typically between 4-6 hollow, finger-like spines protruding from the widely flared lip of the shell.
Very little is known about this species biology or ecology. This species is thought to share similarities with the species Strombus gigas, the Queen conch, and as such it is likely that it fills a similar ecological role. L.lambis is likely to be a herbivore and/or a detritivore, living primarily on sandy or rubble-covered sea floors. Additionally, it is likely that it has a late maturation (being relatively long-lived at up to 30 years old, S.gigas takes up to 4 or 5 years to reach sexual maturity) and slow movement. Unlike most Gastropods which use their strong, muscular foot for locomotion, L.lambis uses its pointed operculum to move itself forward in a “leaping” or “jumping” motion.
On Cocos (Keeling) Islands, a remote coral atoll in the Indian Ocean and one of Australia’s external territories, Gong gong are a culturally significant species for the Cocos Malay population. The Gong gong are collected by all members of the community for use in cultural ceremonies, in particular the celebration of marriages and of Hari raya, the Muslim celebration for the end of the fast during Ramadan.
Due to their likely slow maturation and growth, Gong gong are particularly vulnerable to over-harvesting. On the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the importance of the species for cultural purposes has meant that there is a substantial amount of pressure being placed on stocks and there are concerns for the long-term sustainability of the recreational fishery.
In the Caribbean, the Queen conch has been severely over fished and there are now very stringent management measures in place to ensure that stocks can recover. Further research on Gong gong in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands is desperately needed in order to understand the reproductive biology and movement of the species in order to allow adequate management measures to be put in place to ensure stocks are protected into the future.