Traveling With Vacation Seashell Souvenirs

collecting seashell souvenirs

Vacationers usually want a souvenir reminder of their trip. Beach vacations usually include some beach-combing and maybe shell collecting. So, can you bring shells home (wherever that is) from the beach?

florida coastline
Florida East Coast Beach

Since I don’t know where home is for you, that is a difficult question to answer.  Countries may have various rules on what can be brought in.  If it’s allowed, then find out what you can collect and keep from the area you visit.

 If you are in Florida, read about the Rules for Shell Collecting.  And you should never keep any shells, starfish, sand dollars, etc. that are alive! Besides the fact that it’s going to kill the animal that created that shell you covet, it’s often illegal to collecting living shells.

It’s best to find out what local laws say. Ask at the hotel, or place you are staying – they should know.  Killing any living creature is not cool in my book.

New Smyrna Beach
New Smyrna Beach

So, it’s fine to take all the empty beach shells you want, but how many do you really need?  Here on the east coast of Florida, shells are small, and sparse.  On Sanibel Island and the Gulf Coast, shells are numerous.  With the wonderful cell phone cameras these days, it’s so easy to take photos and then collect a few favorite shells.

All collected shells should be rinsed well in plain water.   Adding a tiny bit of bleach can help remove smells and dirt, but don’t let them soak for long in bleach or shell colors will fade.   Please note: The exception would be starfish and sand dollars and any other more fragile specimens.  Just rinse with water.

If a shell has a dark colored “skin” that is the periostracum.  It will be tough to remove, but will eventually flake off.

Starfish under glass at Smyrna Dunes Park
Locally found starfish

Dry everything well, or put shells out on the deck, porch or in a sunny spot until they dry – remember that sun will fade shells!   Shells are quite tough for the most part, but if you’ve found anything fragile, be sure to wrap it well or put it inside a cracker box, or empty food carton for the journey.

Check online with the airline, but anything packed in checked luggage should be okay for travel.

Author: Pam

Spending time on the water is the best, and blogging about the sea life found along the saltwater river and ocean is what I do. I’m also a designer at Zazzle and sell my work, with a lot of ocean themes, on the site.

10 thoughts on “Traveling With Vacation Seashell Souvenirs”

  1. The thing about buying shells from a shop is that they usually buy from harvesters who do kill the animals inside (by collecting by the bunch, inhabited or not). When places sell shells, they are trying to make money, and that means they really don’t care where the shells came from or if they were alive when collected. You’ll buy an empty shell, but it was probably killed in order to be sold. When beach-combing, it’s pretty easy to tell if the shell you want to collect is dead or uninhabited. In my opinion, I think it’s better to pick up your own from a beach rather than purchase from a store.

  2. Wonderful post. MY fiance has a condo in Florida and he said if you really want shells, there is a Anything for a Dollar on every corner with lots of lovely shells. At least this way you will know you are not killing anything.

  3. I’ve never found a starfish of any kind, but it would probably be stiff and not moving if it were dead. Also, if it’s up on shore and out of the water it’s either dead or dying.

  4. I love the different types of starfish. This might be a silly question, but how can you tell if a starfish is dead? Is it obvious?

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