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The Life of the Lambi

The lambi (lam-bee) by any other name is a queen conch or a Stombe Geant. Stingrays consider them a delicacy, as do hermit crabs, lobster, and turtles; octopuses wrap their loving arms around them. Yet their main predator is man. He has learned to relish the meat within the copious shell, to the extent that they have been overfished, and harvesting in these islands has been limited to four months a year, from October to January.

Ives Tonyon has one of the biggest commercial fishing operations—two 30-foot boats and two mates—on the small, remote island of Désirade. They go out some 2 miles (3 km) for dolphin fish (mahimahi) and marlin, set traps for lobster, and pull nets for lambi. In two hours they can net about 185 lambi. Three or four make a kilo, which they then sell to La Désirade restaurants for about €20.

When asked his origins, he tells how his was one of the first French families on the island. "Was your father a fisherman?" "Oui." "Was your grandfather a fisherman?" "Oui." "His father and grandfather?" "Oui, oui."

Fricassee of lambi is a house specialty of Oualiri Beach Hotel & Restaurant.

Updated: 09-2013

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