Moon Shell Harvesting–Your Thoughts?

DSC_0021 Last week I noticed a group of men that appeared to be collecting a significant amount of moon shells along the beach in front of Emma Schmitz Memorial View Point.    I also see this person (photo) on a regular basis doing the same…armed with decent size tote, plucking many shells from the beach. 

One day I asked this person what she was doing (she had gone well past the park and was on private property); she informed she was collecting moon shells and beach glass. 

One shell here or there may not make a significant change but weekly raidings may have an environmental impact.   I have no idea if the moon shells are being harvested for food or decor.

What are your thoughts?    


  1. cranky cyclist says

    I believe that they would need a permit to harvest shellfish from a public beach. I know that you have to have a permit to harvest kelp.

  2. Cat Woman says

    I don’t want anyone bothering the creatures on my property, and even empty moon shells provide a place for crabs etc to hide. Maybe we should see about setting up a sign at the end of Emma Schmitz that they are entering private property and harvesting or bothering sea criters is prohibited

  3. I
    Were they collecting shells or live snails?

    There are harvest limits on marine invertebrates (like moon snails) according to the state dept of Fish and Wildlife. Also, sections of Emma Schmitz beach are city designated sanctuaries and NOTHING may be removed from these areas. (I believe it is the southern portion of the beach that has this protection, from about Snoqualmie St to Jacobsen where it becomes private property.) Harvest of live animals for food in other areas of the beach is restricted for health reasons–that beach is not clean enough to eat off of!

    Harvesting shellfish on private property without permission is illegal except in some cases where tribal fishing rights supersede the private property rights–this is a complicated area, legally speaking, but I’m not aware of any local tribes having petitioned to use any private tidelands as usual and accustomed harvest areas. Folks who are caught doing this kind of illegal harvest can be fined.

    IMNSHO as a beach naturalist and someone who has lived here for almost 40 years and watched tremendous changes take place to our beach ecology as traffic on the beach has increased, beach glass and litter are the only things that can be taken off the beach without negatively impacting beach habitat. As the previous comment indicates, moon snail shells are ideal habitat for larger hermit crabs. To my knowledge, they are the only snail species in Puget Sound that makes a big enough shell for larger hermits to use.

    About 20 years ago there was a fairly regular Fish and Wildlife patrol that came around here. If this kind of harvesting starts becoming a regular thing again, I suggest anyone who notices it should call Fish and Wildlife and report it.

  4. I’d like to repost this on WSB (er, link) but I’ll confess to ignorance. What exactly is a “moon shell” around here? I looked it up on Google Images and the term seems to be used for many things.

  5. Cat Woman says

    Here is a good picture

    they are big – around 3-4 inches across

  6. BeachDriveBoy says

    I have a question about what part of the beach is ‘private property’. I was under the impression that private beach went only to the Mean High Tide Line.

    That being said, I don’t care much for the wholesale removal of Moon Snail shells either. As an avid SCUBA diver, I concur with the other posters that these are ideal habitat for Hermit Crabs.

  7. BeachDriveBoy, actually waterfront properties have different lot lines. For example, my lot line on the water side goes beyond our neigbhors lot line. I’ll see if I can get the title company that I work with to provide good information about this via writing a post on their blog.

  8. My property goes to the mean LOW tide. (I have never heard of anyone’s property going to the mean HIGH tide…if so, we wouldn’t own any of the tidelands since every day high tide hits the bulkhead )
    I know for a fact it is mean low tide, as that came into account in figuring out the footage of my property when applying for a building permit (go figure, as most of the time most of my property is under water!)
    I don’t mind people looking and learning from sealife on my property, but if they start harvesting or bothering the sea critters ….they will hear a “”Git” off my land” from me!

  9. Hi, thanks for the tips. That was a great help to me.

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