Shelling in Florida

One thing we’ve learned on our Honeymoon Vacation is that we both LOVE shelling!  It’s so much fun to go out to look for sea shells.  We’ve really been trying to find ones that are really special.

It should be known that because seashells are important to the state’s chain of life, the State of Florida has outlawed the collecting of live shells on many of the beaches and islands.  In fact, I believe if you want collect living shells from the shoreline or water for personal you must hold a recreational saltwater fishing license. “Live shell” is defined as any specimen containing an inhabitant, whether or not the mollusk seems alive. The law also protects sand dollars, starfish and sea urchins.

Anyone look for sea shells on the islands and beaches of Florida are also urged to limit their empty-shell collection. Hauling away seashells by the bucketful diminishes supplies and the value of a single shell.

So, one thing you first have to learn is what is a dead shell and what is a live shell?  Two of the most common shells you’ll find in Florida are the conch and the bivalve.


Here are some of the more common shells (and technically urchin for the sand dollar) that we’ve been finding this week.

The Florida Fighting Conch is EVERYWHERE on the Ft. Myers and Sanibel beaches.  Here is a live one:


See that guy in there?

You never want to take one of those home! They are still alive and still growing!

When we were out walking the beach right before low tide one day we found SIX live sand dollars and about six dead ones!  That’s the most we found so far compared to any other trip.

See these ones we’ve collected?  Some have been dried so they are whiter and some are still dark. 


You want to make sure they don’t have any little whiskers (that’s not a scientific term, that’s a wife term!)

IMG_7686 IMG_7687 IMG_7688

When you see those whiskers you need to put the little guy back in the Gulf and let him live on!  Anyone else like to go shelling? 


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2 thoughts on “Shelling in Florida

  1. an uncommon girl September 14, 2012 at 12:09 AM Reply

    I once found a conch with a critter inside, too!
    I’m in S.C. and have seen some people take sea urchins from the beach. I don’t think we have any law protecting them – wish we did 😦

    • runangiemaerun September 14, 2012 at 12:20 AM Reply

      They are so cool! What a shame… I’m glad we do have those laws–I was surprised that we did though, so a Win for Florida!

      I really want to find a sea urchin! I’ve been searching all week… I’ve heard they are very very rare on these beaches and even more so not alive. Oh well, maybe another time!

      We actually thought about going to SC instead of staying in Florida but the condo we wanted wasn’t available when we needed it–you’re in a beautiful state!

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