When visiting Florida beaches, a favorite past time is to collect sea shells. Getting that great find of a whole unbroken shell is exciting. And it is permitted in just about every beach in Florida. The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is one location that does not permit collecting of anything that you find on the shore, even empty seashells. Along most shorelines however, it remains a fun pastime and recreational activity.
It is important to know that if you pick up a shell with a live animal in it, or a sand dollar, starfish or other sealife that is alive, you need to put it back. Taking live creatures from their habitat on a Florida beach is illegal and can result in hefty fines.
Harvesting Off Shore
If you are diving or fishing, there are also very specific regulations.
A Florida recreational saltwater fishing license is required in order to harvest any sealife including a sea shell containing a living organism, even when harvesting from shore, specifically for clams and oysters.
The Florida coral reefs in Biscayne National Park and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary are protected by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Coral Reef Protection Program. Collecting Coral is strictly prohibited. See Florida Coral Rules and Regulations for more specific details.