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Posts Tagged ‘beachcombing regulations’

Beachcombing Regulations Abound. Know Before You Go!

Posted by Jody on October 17, 2013

Do you know what (if any) seashells and critters you are allowed to bring home from the shore? Times are changing! Many municipalities now have rules and shelling regulations regarding what beachcombers are allowed to collect. Every now and then these ordinances are passed with the intention of preserving the delicate coastal ecosystem. In some places a violation of existing shelling regulations can result in a stiff fine and even jail time!

Can you bring me home?

Is there a resident hermit crab inside? Maybe!

Tybee Island, Georgia, passed a law in 2011 against the collection of living sea creatures. Animals protected by the new beachcombing law include live sea stars (aka: star fish), sand dollars, and hermit crabs. It’s important to know that hermit crabs can be pretty tricky critters! You may have to inspect a seashell more than once to be absolutely certain it’s empty.

According to the 2011 Tybee Island shelling regulation: beachcombers’ take home treasures can still include empty shells and nonliving animals.

Sand Dollar

Sand Dollar

If you are lucky enough to find a sand dollar, here’s a simple way to tell if it is still living. Examine it to see if it’s tiny, fuzz-like hairs (cilia) are moving. You may turn the sand dollar over and touch it very gently with your finger to check. If it is still alive you’ll surely want to gently place it (bottom side down) back in calmer water, on the sand. Seriously, hurling live sea creatures back into the ocean is never a good idea!

Live Sand Dollar (Reverse Side)

Live Sand Dollar (Reverse Side)

On Sanibel Island, Florida (widely recognized as the best shelling beach in the United States) it has been illegal to collect live specimens since January 1, 1995. According to The City of Sanibel website, “All Sanibel beaches and nearshore waters to one-half mile from shore are protected by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Rule 46-26.” This shelling regulation established a complete ban on the collection of live shells. The remainder of Lee County, Florida followed suit on March 1, 2002. Sea stars, sand dollars, and sea urchins are also protected.

The Town of Hilton Head, South Carolina shelling regulation prohibits “Removal, harming, or harassment of any live beach fauna (sea turtles, sand dollars, conchs, starfish, etc.)”

Beachcombing on the Bolivar Peninsula of the Texas Gulf Coast

Beachcombing on the Bolivar Peninsula of the Texas Gulf Coast

Oftentimes, an official permit is mandatory for live collecting. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission declares: “A Florida recreational saltwater fishing license (resident or non-resident, whichever is applicable) is required in order to harvest a sea shell containing a living organism, even when harvesting from shore.” 

Before heading to the beach for a fun-filled day of treasure hunting, beachcombers would be wise to check for the most up-to-date local beachcombing regulations. Wildlife refuges, conservancies, national and state parks, counties, cities, and states could all have differing rules for the types of seashells and sea life that may be removed from the beach! Occasionally they conflict. And in some instances, all shelling and collecting is prohibited. We always play it safe and go with the strictest of the rules and regs. That’s one way to keep those hard earned vacation dollars in our pockets!

~~~ It’s that important to know before you go! ~~~

We’d really like to hear about the shelling regulations on your favorite beach. Please feel free to share!

Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Catching the Drift on Driftwood

Posted by E.G.D. on October 4, 2012

Driftwood on the Northern Washington Coast (Photo by Jsymmetry, Wikimedia Commons)

I’ve been collecting driftwood for quite some time, now, mostly favoring thoroughly weathered pieces, but I’ve never actually bothered to specifically seek it out.  When I hit the beach, I tend to pick up anything I find interesting.  I might take home shark teeth, seashells, coral, agates, sea beans, beach glass, ocean-smoothed pottery, sand dollars, or driftwood from any beach I visit.  Granted, for most of the things on that list, I have visited beaches with the specific intention of finding them.  Today, I was fingering a couple of prize pieces of driftwood I have long displayed on my bathroom counter, and I found myself wondering why not driftwood?  It has so much personality, and it can have so much history behind it!  Was this old, worn piece of wood once part of a ship?  Was it part of a building that fell into the ocean, or was it part of a structure swept away by the mighty Mississippi river and taken out to sea with its flow?  There’s generally no way of knowing, but there is definitely a certain romance in wondering.

California Driftwood from my Bathroom Counter (Photo by E.G.D.)

Now, I’ve been surfing the web for hours today, and I have found very little “official” information about finding driftwood.  There do not appear to be many driftwood experts on the web who collect it strictly for fun, rather than profit!  However, I have come to some conclusions of my own, based on my own experience, as well as on today’s internet wanderings.  Firstly, driftwood is like any other beachcombing find, in that it is best to look for it right after a storm and at low tide.  Also, similar to the fact that beach glass is easiest to find on beaches near bars and old dumps, driftwood is easiest to find on beaches that are near forests or downstream from logging areas.  Finally, as with any item you might want to take home from a beach, different beaches have different rules with regard to driftwood collection (for instance, according to an article from the St.Lewis Post-Dispatch, if you want to collect driftwood on the beaches in Illinois state parks, you’ll need to secure a firewood collection permit in advance, and in St.Lewis County, it is illegal to remove driftwood from any beach or river shore at all).

Driftwood on Whaleshead Beach, Oregon Coast

Now, this isn’t much of a guide, I know, but it’s a start!  Why don’t we expand upon it?  Do any of you readers out there have advice about finding driftwood?  Do you have any cherished driftwood finds you would like to share with our little community?  Please feel free to start up a conversation in the comment area below!  If you would like to send a picture our way, I will be happy to post your triumphs right here in the post, properly labeled so that you can claim bragging rights.

In the meantime, best of luck beachcombing, everyone!  Here’s knocking on driftwood- E.G.D.

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing | Tagged: , , , , | 21 Comments »

Beachcombers Beware ~ Regulation Variation at National Seashores

Posted by Jody on January 12, 2012

We already know that every beach is different; the view, the sand, the shoreline, the coastal critters! Another thing that varies from beach to beach are the laws and ordinances regarding beachcombing and seashell collecting.

Just North of San Francisco, California

Just North of San Francisco, California

Beachcombers Beware ~ even among the ten federally protected areas known as National Seashores, which are managed by the National Park Service (an agency of the United States Department of the Interior), shelling  regulations and rules can vary greatly. Here is just a sampling of the diverse shelling and collecting regulations within the National Park System:

Point Reyes National Seashore (Northern California) has very strict regulations regarding collecting items within the park. “All objects (plants and animals (or parts of them such as flowers, seashells, or antlers), historic artifacts, minerals, etc.) within the National Seashore are protected and may not be collected. However, certain products are available for personal (non-commercial) use only in limited quantities. These are: Blackberries, Raspberries, Thimbleberries, Gooseberries, Salmonberries, Huckleberries, or apples – 2 quarts per person per day / Mushrooms – 2 gallons plus 1 mushroom per adult per day.” (Okie Dokie ~ That’s mighty interesting!)

McClures Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, California (©Jody Diehl)

At Assateague Island National Seashore (Maryland and Virginia) the collection of seashells is allowed under the following guideline: “Shell Collecting  / Limit collecting to a gallon or less of unoccupied shells to ensure a supply for beach dwelling organisms.”

Padre Island National Seashore (Texas Gulf Coast) “allows visitors to take up to five gallons of seashells, as long as they are not used commercially. Shell collecting is permitted as long as the mollusk in the shell is no longer living. Check carefully to make sure that the shell is empty or the organism has died before you collect.” The Padre Island National Seashore website even offers a downloadable brochure with helpful tips for successful seashell hunting within the park.

Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida

Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida

It’s so important to know before you go!  You can check the National Park Service website for the specific National Seashore you’ll be visiting. After all, the above examples show three different National Seashores, all within the same National Park System, where the seashell collecting restrictions range from no collecting to one gallon or less of unoccupied specimens, and all the way up to five gallons of hand picked beach treasures!

Have a great day at the beach & happy beachcombing!



Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Sand and Shoreline | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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