Home Featured California mom fined $88K after kids collect 72 clams from Pismo Beach thinking they were seashells

California mom fined $88K after kids collect 72 clams from Pismo Beach thinking they were seashells

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California mom fined $88K after kids collect 72 clams from Pismo Beach thinking they were seashells



Shell shocked!

A California mother was slapped with a fine worth $88,000 after her kids mistakenly collected clams — thinking they were picking up seashells — on the beach without a fishing license.

Charlotte Russ was on a family trip to Pismo Beach, known as the “Clam Capital of the World,” when she said her kids picked up 72 clams from the clamming hotspot during their getaway, according to ABC 7.

Charlotte Russ (C) was fined over $88,000 after her kids mistakenly collected clams on a California beach. KFSN-TV

The Department of Fish and Wildlife confronted the mother of five and told her that her kids were collecting the clams without a license, issuing her a ticket.

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

She later received a fine in the mail ordering her to pay $88,993 before a San Luis Obispo County judge knocked down her fine to $500.

“It made me really sad and depressed, and it kind of ruined our trip,” Russ told the outlet.

She said the whole experience taught her children and herself valuable lessons about wildlife regulations.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife confronted the mother of five and told her that her kids were collecting the clams without a license, issuing her a ticket. KFSN-TV
She later received a fine in the mail ordering her to pay $88,993 before a San Luis Obispo County judge knocked down her fine to $500. KFSN-TV

“They know now at the beach don’t touch anything, but they know now what a clam is, compared to what a seashell is now, I’ve had to explain that to them,” she said.

Making light of the harmless mix-up, Russ showed that she got a shellfish tattooed on her arm to remember the situation after she “won” her case.

“It was definitely one expensive trip to Pismo, unforgettable,” Russ said.

In 2023, fifty-eight citations were issued in San Luis Obispo County for illegally collecting clams, according to the outlet.

Making light of the harmless mix-up, Russ showed that she got a shellfish tattooed on her arm to remember the situation after she “won” her case. KFSN-TV

The Department of Fish and Wildlife says the harsh penalty for collecting clams without a license is in place to protect shellfish species like clams.

“The reason we got it we have these regulations is because we have to let them get to 4 and a half inches so they can spawn so they can have they can have offspring every year, and they have juvenile clams,” Lt. Matthew Gil told the outlet.

Pismo clams are exclusively found in the eastern Pacific Ocean and can be identified by their thick, large, and triangular shells and can be pale or brown in color.

Pismo clams can be identified by their thick, large, and triangular shells and can be pale or brown in color. ca.gov

The outside of the shell may also have a yellowish, tan, or green varnish-like coating.

Pismo clams are bivalves — meaning they have two siphons and a two-halved shell.

Pismo Beach is the home of Pismo Clam and the Pacific Razor Clams, according to the beach’s website.

Clamers are limited to 10 Pismo Clams per day.

Over the years, clammers and sea otters have drastically reduced the population, but shellfish populations have increased due to regulation efforts.