California Mother Is Stunned by Whopping $89,000 Fine for Seashells Her Son Collected from the Beach

Charlotte Russ of Fresno, Calif., was fined $89,000 after her son was caught collecting dozens of clams from Pismo Beach while they were on vacation. The young boy thought he was collecting seashells, but they turned out to be clams, which are highly regulated. If you don’t have a fishing license, clams are off limits. Lt. Matthew Gil of the Department of Fish and Wildlife explained that the regulations are in place so the clams can spawn each year. He went on to say that you can tell a clam from other mollusks based on how hard it is to pull apart their shell. Collecting sand dollars, which are actually dead, and broken seashells are fine, but live clams are prohibited from being removed from the beach. Russ was able to plead her case with a San Luis Obispo County Judge, who agreed to reduce her fine to $500. Her citation was not an isolated incident; last year, 58 tickets were issued for illegal clamming on Pismo Beach. While there were signs posted around the beach warning visitors of the consequences of clamming, Russ said if you don’t know a clam from a seashell, the signs don’t really register.