Search icon


25th May 2024

Mum fined £70,000 after her kids collected ‘shells’ from the beach

Charlie Herbert

Mum fined £70,000 after her kids collected 'shells' from the beach

A costly mistake

A woman was told to pay a huge fine after her kids collected what they thought were seashells from the beach.

Charlotte Russ and her family took a trip to Pismo, California, for a day by the sea at the end of last year.

Whilst there, her kids decided to do what most children would and collected some shells from the beach.

It was only afterwards that the mum realised her kids had actually collected dozens of clams, and had managed to break some strict regulations in the process.

She told ABC30: “My kids they thought they were collecting seashells, but they were actually collecting clams, 72 to be exact.”

“Right before we went, that’s when I opened it and that’s when I saw the amount,” Russ added.

The mum ended up receiving a ticket on the spot and later received a notice ordering her to pay a fine of just over $88,000 (£69,000).

Russ said the fine made her “really sad and depressed, and it kind of ruined our trip.”

Lt. Matthew Gil with the Department of Fish and Wildlife explained that the rules are in place to protect the species of the shellfish.

“The reason we got it we have these regulations is because we have to let them get to four-and-a-half inches so they can spawn, so they can have offspring every year, and they have juvenile clams,” he said.

Lt. Gil explained that if the shells are intact or difficult to prise apart then it’s a clam, not an ordinary seashell, and should not be taken.

He said: “If you have a dead sand dollar, a dead animal, or something like that, or you have a broken seashell, that’s fine. Pismo clams — what you’re going to see is both shells will be intact together.”

Lt. Gil explained this to Russ’s kids, who will no doubt not make the same mistake again.

After the confusion was explained to San Luis Obispo County judge, Russ’s fine was reduced to a much-more payable amount of $500.

And she can laugh about the whole thing now, having even got a shellfish tattoo to remind her how good her kids are at being clam fishers.

Russ is now urging more signs to be put up around the area to warn other families about the dangers of taking clams.

Related links:

Chippy fined for charging customers 50p if paying by card