Just about everything about the channeled whelk, the most lucrative catch for Vineyard commercial fishermen, is elusive.

Little is known about what whelk do between the time they hatch, emerging as 3-millimeter baby snails, to when they are caught, sometimes 40 years later. When they aren’t feeding, whelks, known on-Island as conch, bury themselves in the sea floor, confounding marine scientists hoping to study them.

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