Tourist goes to jail for collecting seashells in Florida

U.S. & World

KEY WEST, FL (WFLA) — A tourist visiting Florida will spend 15 days behind bars after taking 40 queen conch seashells from the waters surrounding Key West. 

The Miami Herald reports Diana Fiscal-Gonzalez, 30, of Dallas, Texas was arrested on July 13 after a tipster reported seeing her pluck the conchs from the sea.

She later pleaded no contest to taking the conchs, saying she didn’t know it was a crime and only planned to clean the shells and give them away as gifts. 

Harvesting empty seashells is allowed in Florida, but taking a living queen conch is illegal, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The shells Fiscal-Gonzalez collected contained organisms inside.

The agency also notes that killing, mutilating or removing a living queen conch from a shell is strictly prohibited. 

In addition to 15 days in jail, Fiscal-Gonzalez will also serve six months of probation and pay a $500 fine plus $268 for court costs, the newspaper reported. 

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