19 Aug 2021
We just wanted to remind our guests (especially first-timers) that, while collecting shells is popular and highly encouraged, there are some you do not want to take with you. Easily put, do not collect live shells (anything with a live mussel in it).
While most shells found on the beach don't have any live mollusks or other organisms, we occasionally find some either in shallow water or just washed ashore, such as Florida fighting conchs. We would sometimes see unknowing beachgoers taking them along for whatever reason, which is wrong for a number of reasons.
It is illegal (as amended in 1995) to take (or "harvest") any live shellfish (excluding oysters, hard clams, sunray venus clams, bay scallops, and coquinas). You can pick up or "temporarily possess" any shell to determine whether there is a live shellfish inside, just as long as you do not harm it in any way. There's no worry about collecting shells that don't contain any live shellfish and "so long as a live shellfish is not killed, mutilated, or removed from its shell prior to such harvest." (City of Sanibel Code of Ordinances, 68B-26.003). Violators can face some significant fines.
Another major reason not to collect live shellfish (unless for a specific purpose and have a license to do so)...THEY STINK! Seriously! If you've packed any fish or shells (that you didn't know had an organism and later died) improperly, they deteriorate and releases gases rather quickly. We have heard stories about how luggage and clothing get ruined that way.
So, please feel free to collect all the shells you can carry. Just be sure that you're not taking any unexpected passengers or stowaways with you.
Book Direct and Save (and be sure to ask about our shell bags for collectors)!