Woman Arrested for Collecting Shells on the Florida Coast
FLORIDA — July 19, 2018
A Texas woman will have to spend 15 days in jail after her trip to Key West (Florida) for taking 40 queen conchs from the waters as gifts for friends.
Diana Fiscal-Gonzalez, 30, of Dallas admitted in court that she had taken the conchs. She apologized to Judge Mark Wilson, saying she didn’t know it was illegal to take the state-protected mollusks.
She had plucked the conchs from the sea with the help of several children.
Pursuant to the court decision, Fiscal-Gonzalez received credit for one day of time served. She also will have to serve six months of probation and pay a $500 fine plus $268 for court costs.
Wilson cut her a break by withholding adjudication, which means she won’t have a criminal conviction on her record.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer, he caught the woman, not on the beach, but when he saw her with three plastic containers and a water hose in the driveway.
The woman didn't understand what he wanted and said that she had bought the conchs for her friends back home in Texas.
An observer who photographed Fiscal-Gonzales collecting the shells sent the officer the images.
After seeing the photots, FWC Officer John Martino then returned and arrested Fiscal-Gonzales at 1216 Watson St. in Key West.
Martino collected the Conchs, photographed them for evidence and then returned them to the ocean.
“Most of them were still alive,” Dube said.
The Conch, the slow-moving, long-living mollusk that lives in a large flared shell, is a symbol of the relaxed life in Key West-- even the high school football team is called “The Fighting Conchs.”
Fiscal-Gonzalez was released within four hours after posting $328. She must report to court on Aug. 10 to begin her jail sentence.
The queen conch (Strombus gigas) refers to both the large, marine mollusk and its shell alone. Queen conchs (pronounced “konks”) are soft-bodied animals, belonging to the same taxonomic group (Mollusca) as clams, oysters, octopi, and squid. They live in shallow, warm waters on coral reefs or sea-grass beds. A queen conch can reach up to 12 inches in length and can live for up to 40 years. Its shell grows as the mollusk grows, forming into a spiral shape with a glossy pink or orange interior.