Mom Says She Was Fined $88K After Kids Accidentally Picked Up 72 Clams Instead of Seashells

Charlotte Russ' experience last November was hardly a day at the beach

<p>Getty</p> A stock image of clams on a beach


A stock image of clams on a beach

A California woman had one expensive trip to the beach after her kids picked up clams — and she was given an $88,000 ticket!

"My kids, they thought they were collecting seashells, but they were actually collecting clams, 72 to be exact," Fresno resident Charlotte Russ told ABC affiliate KFSN-TV.

An officer promptly issued the mother a two-count citation for fishing without a license and for collecting the undersized Pismo clams during the November 2023 oceanside outing, according to court filings obtained by PEOPLE.

But it was the amount of the fine that had Russ reeling.

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“It made me really sad and depressed, and it kind of ruined our trip,” Russ told the news station after she saw that she would have to pay $88,993.

Thankfully for Russ, in a San Luis Obispo County courtroom last month, the amount was reduced to $500, which can be paid through community service.

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According to wildlife experts, the regulation exists to protect the shellfish, since the juvenile clams that Russ’ children took have not yet spawned.

Last year alone, 57 other citations were issued in San Luis Obispo for the same infraction, per KFSN.

For the kids, it was a pricey lesson, but they consider it now one they’ve learned, Russ said.

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"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.

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