Go to Florida for vacation and to jail for collecting conch shells?

Collecting shells isn’t illegal. But collecting living organisms– live shells– is. And, that is what a Texas tourist did when she visited the Florida Keys.

Diana Fiscal-Gonzalez, 30, of Dallas, Texas, was arrested by a Florida Fish and Wildlife officer after she was found with a group of children taking 40 still-living queen conch shells.

She told the judge she did not know it was illegal. She said she was planning to clean out the state-protected mollusks away as gifts.

She was ordered to serve 15 days in jail and pay a $500 fine.

The judge also order Gonzalez to serve six months of probation and pay $268 in court costs, the Miami Herald reports.

Taking a living queen conch is illegal; so is killing, mutilating or removing a living queen conch from its shell, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said.

Conch shells are an important part of Florida Keys culture, the local news reports. Native-born islanders are called “Conchs.” The Keys are called “the Conch Republic.”

Empty conch shells when blown make a unique sound, and have been used as signaling devices in the Florida Keys for centuries.

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