Collecting shells on a California beach nearly ruined a family (6 photos)

24 May 2024

A California mother was fined $88,993 after her children mistakenly picked clams instead of shells. The thing is that you need a fishing license for this...

Charlotte Russ and her family came to Pismo Beach, the “shellfish capital of the world.” According to her, the children found 72 shells on the beach.

Department of Fish and Wildlife officers stopped a mother with many children and explained that her children were collecting shellfish without a license. The woman was immediately given a fine.

“Just before I left, I opened it and saw the amount,” says Russ.

She later received a fine in the mail ordering her to pay $88,993, but a San Luis Obispo judge reduced the amount to $500.

“I was very upset and depressed, and this to some extent ruined our trip,” the American admitted.

She said the situation taught her family a valuable lesson about how to behave in the wild.

“Now children know not to touch anything on the beach and can tell the difference between a clam and a shell.”

Moreover, Russ got a clam tattoo on her arm.

“It was an expensive trip to Pismo, unforgettable,” summed up Charlotte.

In 2023, 58 tickets were issued for illegal shellfish harvesting in San Luis Obispo.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife explained that the harsh penalties were imposed to protect the species.

"We have to let the clams grow to 4½ inches so they can spawn so they can have babies every year," Lt. Matthew Gil told the publication.

Pismo clams are found only in the eastern Pacific Ocean and can be identified by their thick triangular shells that are light or brown in color. They are classified as bivalve, that is, they have two siphons and two doors.

Over the years, sea otters and shellfish harvesters have greatly reduced the population, but thanks to regulatory measures the situation is improving.

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