Collecting seashells by the seashore landed woman in jail
KEY WEST, Fla. — After taking home 40 queen conchs from the ocean, a Texas woman was arrested in Key West, Florida, on Thursday.
Police said Diana Candelario Fiscal-Gonzalez, of Dallas, Texas, picked up the protected species from the water while in the company of several children, according to FLKeysNews.
When a witness told officials a group of people had taken the queen conchs, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officer was dispatched to a Key West home at about 9:50 a.m.
Officials found the woman in a driveway with a water hose and three plastic containers, FLKeysNews reports.
Fiscal-Gonzalez took responsibility for all of the illegally removed conchs and was arrested.
She posted $328 and was released in less than four hours, FLKeysNews reports.
Officials report most of the conchs were still alive, according to FLKeysNews.
After the incident, authorities photographed the conchs and returned them to the water.
The queen conch is a large, marine mollusk that lives in shallow, warm waters on coral reefs or sea grass beds, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The mollusk can live up to 40 years and grow up to 12 inches in length with its shelling growing with it.
Queen conch meat is eaten in the Caribbean and exported to other countries. Its shell is also turned into jewelry and sold to tourists.
Florida outlawed harvest of the once-plentiful conch after the collapse of conch fisheries in the 1920s, the US Fish and Wildlife Service reports. The service holds the United States responsible for consuming about 80 percent of internationally traded queen conchs.