Does anyone bring home sand, sea shells, and pebbles as momentos

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Not voo-doo...but what do YOU do?
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Bullhead City, AZ
668 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
We has a nice small collection of shells we had picked up off the beach in Costa Rica and they were confiscated by the authorities at the airport in Liberia.
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Tidewater, VA.U.S.A.
974 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
About what shells you pick up. In St.Crox I took some small shells.When I got home and took them out to add to my shell collection they started crawling all over the table.They were hermit crabs!!!My family started calling me the illegal crab smuggler.Now I look vary closely (IN) any shells I pick up.Take my word for it ,you don't want to see your face on CNN news for bringing home a shell(:-<).
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Joined Apr 2007
Originally posted by patmom4
It is a great way to remember your special vacations---Black sand from Punaluu Beach, Hawaii---White gypsum sand from White Sands National dog scented sand from Coney Island, NY!!
And yellow sand from the dog beach in Jupiter, FL.....

PS Sorry - couldn't help myself. 1t's 1:30am and once again I'm combing the CC boards. It's a hoot.
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Choctaw, Oklahoma
130 Posts
Joined Jun 2001
I found a small Hawaiian "idol" and made a necklace out of it. While I was still in Hawaii, I wore it while I was in a Surfing contest. Somehow I fell off of my board and hit my head on rocks in the surf. I think the idol had something to do with my bad luck.

I returned it to where I found it.

Greg Brady
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Just outside Atlanta
1,505 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
Originally posted by soonerg
I found a small Hawaiian "idol" and made a necklace out of it. While I was still in Hawaii, I wore it while I was in a Surfing contest. Somehow I fell off of my board and hit my head on rocks in the surf. I think the idol had something to do with my bad luck.

I returned it to where I found it.

Greg Brady
Too Funny! I took some black sand from the Big Island a couple of years ago and thougth about the Brady Bunch when I did it!!! I think Pele is more pissed about all the howlees there now and not my pint 'o sand!
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Totowa, New Jersey
774 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
I have been collecting sand from all of the beaches that I have been to. My collection is a great way for me to remember all of the experience that I have been. I took a "grain" of sand from South Hampton, England. It is a large rock.

I have never had anyone stop me - even when going through special agriculture screenings.
14,589 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
Originally posted by B8C
A friend (first time cruiser) asked if she could bring home sand, sea shells, or pebbles from each island to create a memory box. I've read other threads about a big no no for taking food off ship due to possible cross contamination of pests, etc.

Is it a concern to bring home sand, sea shells, or pebbles from each of the beaches you visit? Does it violate any laws?

Thanks, wouldn't want her to get in any trouble.
My hubby picked up a bunch of white coral off the beach in Martinique back in 2000. it was ugly (not pretty like the red or peach colored) and it sat on a shelf in our armoire for about 3 years when I decided to throw it away. He hasn't missed the stuff either- but if I had asked him he would have said we should keep it. What he doesn't know will not hurt him!
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146 days total.
Celebrity -40 days
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I have cruised the Caribbean, east, west and southern; Alaska, Bermuda, a transatlantic which included North west Europe and East coast Canada, the Med., and a California coastal/Baja. I loved them all!

Upcoming cruise NCL Jade October 16, 2017 -10 day to Quebec and Prince Edward Island.
eastern SC
23 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
Brought a conch shell home from Nassau in my carry on bag that I carried with me on the return flight. My friend and I paid $5 each for them from locals. they had a cut drilled into the end and thus no creatures. she put hers in her checked bags and it was confiscated. customs left their calling card in the luggage.
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
56 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
My DW and I have collected seashells, coral, sand, sea glass, minerals and seeds from all over the world for the past 25 years. When on the beach we very rarely just sit and sun tan. We mostly split our time between snorkeling and beachcombing, looking for new and unique items to add to our collection. Years ago it was very easy to collect and no one seemed to mind. However today a person needs to know where to collect and where you cannot collect. A lot of beach and sea areas are being designated as marine reserves or sanctuaries where a person cannot take or collect anything without risking a major fine. For example we were in Cozumel a few years ago and had found some very attractive 6 inch Queen Couch Shells that had been eaten by an octopus so that they were “gem quality” or in pristine condition. We were sitting on the beach examining the shells when an attendant from the near by hotel came over to us and told us to put the shells away in our backpack because the area was patrolled by federal police who would give us a $5,000.00 per shell for collecting in a marine reserve area. I told the attendant that we had seen the same type of shell for sale in the hotel’s gift shop. He told us that although this was true and the shells were probably locally collected the fact that we were near the water with wet shells would most certainly result in a fine. Having the shells in one’s possession in a shopping bag away from the beach or in your cabin would be no problem. I thanked him for the advice and tipped him for his consideration and concern.

Since this experience I now check to make sure that the beach that we are combing or snorkeling at is not in a marine reserve or sanctuary. The last thing that you want to experience is running afoul of the local laws in a foreign country. In fact certain Caribbean islands now consider all of their waters surrounding the island to be a marine sanctuary. This means that one could conceivably run into problems when going through the port authority checkpoints when returning to the ship.

As well, over 35,000 plants and animals including dozens of seashells and stony coral are included on the endangered species list and thus importation and exportation are forbidden or restricted by many countries. I tried to sort out the rules on our trip last year to French Polynesia and Mexico via the USA from Canada. The first problem I ran into was that all the seashells and coral are listed by their scientific name. The second problem was trying to figure out if I would need export permits from French Polynesia and import permits into USA, then export permits from the USA to Mexico, then import permits into Mexico, then import permits into the USA, then export permits from the USA and finally import permits into Canada. After a while I just gave up and decided that I would risk a potential problem and rely on pleading ignorant, hoping that the authorities would just confiscate the offending items and let me off with a warning. This can be risky.

Recently, a Canadian was charged with violating the import regulation for stony coral when he legally purchased several pieces of live coral from a pet shop in Florida to take home and place in his saltwater aquarium. He declared the live coral to Agriculture Canada as per his declaration. He was asked for his import permit giving him the right to bring the live coral into Canada. He did not know that he needed one. Agriculture Canada charged him for illegally importing live stony coral. Although the judge in Ontario recognized the fact that he was ignorant of the requarerment for an import permit and was not importing the coral to sell, he still felt that he need to send a message by “slapped his wrists” with a $2,500.00 fine. The maximum penalty in Canada for importing live stony coral without a license is a fine of up to $50,000.00 and/or two years in jail. Incidentally, dead stony coral does not need an import permit for Canada but Canada does require that one produce an export permit from the country the coral came from if the country requires an export permit. It’s getting so very complicated to figure out the rules for collecting seashells, coral, sand etc. especially when on a cruise that visits multiple countries, that I may stop bring these items home especially since I usually have to clear at least both US customs and Canada customs on the way home.

In fact MSC cruise has taken the position of giving out erroneous information during their debarkation talk. We have been told on two separate MSC Caribbean cruises that taking any seashells or coral whether purchased or collected off the ship into the USA is legal and that a person would be subject to fines and the shells and coral confiscated if caught. I known for a fact that this is misinformation. When I confronted the cruise director he said that this is MSC’s position and that he is told to tell the passengers that collecting shells and coral is illegal. I think that MSC is just covering their butts in the event that someone runs afoul of the customs people and then tries to sue MSC for allowing them to bring shells and coral aboard the ship.

I think this is a crying shame seashells and coral that are dead, washed up onto the beach or rolling around in the surf is a renewable resource. The sea is continually bringing up more shells and pieces of coral every day especially after a storm. These shells and pieces of coral if left uncollected would just get buried or ultimately destroyed by being ground into sand.

I believe that ultimately the rules forbidding collecting shells and coral will have exactly the opposite effect then the “do-gooders” intend. Shells and coral will become more and more valuable to collectors willing to pay for them and thus poaching of not only dead shells and coral but also live shells and corals will escalate to the point it does more damage to the fragile eco-systems than the taking of a dead seashell and pieces of coral washed up on the beach ever did or does.

So I’ll just keep collecting were permitted and try not to break the export and import rules along the way.

Happy Hunting!
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11,517 Posts
Joined Mar 2003
Originally posted by wakelover
We spent 3 days on the Isle of Sark Summer 2003. Whilst walking on the beach we found a flat pebble in the shape of a heart.... We kept it. 2 days later my now DH proposed to me. We ended up having the wedding reception on the same island....and our pebble pride of place between the two of us of on our wedding table....
Thanks for sharing.
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Phoenix, Arizona
6,284 Posts
Joined May 2008
On my first cruise, I bought a small sand globe with the Carnival logo on it. Had some sand and shells inside. I found that the bottom would open up, so every time I get a chance, I add a shell from each cruise, and also a peseta coin I found on the beach at old Cabo.

Now I wish I'd bought a BIGGER globe. They came in three sizes and they don't sell them anymore.
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2,123 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
We hadn't collected any beach material until our last cruise.

Hubby found a big Lion's Paw (?) shell. I'd written the date and island name next to the feet of one of our group members, and before I took a picture of this, hubby laid the shell in the shot. The picture turned out fabulously in large part to that shell!

Then on Nassua, our group found more interesting items. Shells, coral fragments, and sea glass. So now we have a collection started .
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71 Posts
Joined Jun 2007
I brought home 1 small shell last year. I would like to do the sand and some water in a jar the next time I go from the beaches I visit. I heard when you bring home shells, you have to boil them for I think 5 minutes, I guess that is to makes sure whatever is living inside them is gone lol I am assuming after reading some stories here.
I too have heard that they are an endangered species (one kind or all not sure) My friends father was stopped at the Canadian border with some glued on his camper that he had bought in Florida, he didn't do it. He told them, ok I'll sit here and wait and you can take them all off, they let him go.
80 Posts
Joined Oct 2007
i too collect shells sand and stones in fact since early chilhood, have been many places and have a variety of sizes and colours, something i failed to do from the begining was to keep track of where they all came from so they all live happily mixed in boxes and glass jars. Have had a few run ins with locals but have not been cured of my collecters fever. One fine day on a stoney beach of the amalfi coast was wading in the crystal clear water and made out a lot of smaller white stones so proceeded to lift them with my toes and pile them on the edge of the water happy with myself looking at my cache an elderly lady appeared next to me and went off on a tirade, "Not enough that you tourists come here and foul up or beaches but now you want to carry them away". Also along the east coast of Scotland are signs warning not to remove pebbles from the beach. be careful in GReece or Italy do not pick up anything on an archelogical site as that leads to prison. keep on looking
2,179 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
On our first cruise (NCL), we stopped at their private island. I really like to move away from the crowd and seek out native folks to chat to. There was a sea shell shop quite a ways away over a few dunes, looked like it was built out of drift wood. A little old lady was running her shop so I went in and chatted for quite a while. Her shells and sponges were pricy but when I got ready to leave, I spotted a sponge that would go great in our hot tub room. The price on it was $150. She told me that she hadn't had a customer or any visitor for 2 months and it was so nice of me to stop in and get to know her, she would let me have it for $20 dollars. Couldn't pass it up. Welllllllll. 30 inches in diameter, 22 inches high. Barely fit into a trash bag. Had to carry it all the way home. Last ones off the ship because they had to find a dog to sniff for drugs. Couldn't check it at the airport (after four and a half hours taking turns holding it to guard against theft. Like anyone would heist it.) Carried it onto the plane. Wouldn't fit under the seat or overhead. Hauled it like a baby all the way back to Denver. The stories, remarks, jokes, etc. could go on for pages, but, we did get it home.
Austin Tx Usa
868 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
I am a shell collector also and plan to look for shell when we go to the Bahamas next year. If I find shells or sand dollars will they let me on the ship with them? I will be disappointed if I can't beach comb.

Really enjoyed the stories !

13 Posts
Joined Oct 2007
I always wanted to start collecting sand from all the beaches I visit. I finally got around to it on this vacation. I scooped up some sand from each beach into a snack size baggie. I saved the mini (airplane size) bottle of Patron we shot at sail away to keep the sand in. I added a tag around the neck with the name of the beach the sand is from. Now I have 2 memories - the beach and sail away.
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36 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
On my last two cruises I took plastic zip lock cups w/ the lock on lids. Every time we were near a beach I put one in my carry on and filled it with sand at the beach. I would write the name and date on the cup, and put it back in my suite case. My kids like to get them down and ask me to tell the story of where I got the sand. It is nice that something as small sand can have some of the biggest memories.
Lakemont GA
228 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
When in the Navy I had a shipmate who would do the same thing. In Egypt he would buy these fancy little bottles and fill then with sand and water from different places. He then sealed them with wax. He said he had a collection from all over the world. Sounded like one hack of a collection.

I say do it, it will be unique and an interesting collection uniquely yours.
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#1 11/08/08 - 5 day Western Carib. MS Holiday.
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