Our seas are full of amazing and exquisite sea creatures many of which are being loved to death. Most of the SAND DOLLARS, STARFISH, SEAHORSES, SEA URCHIN SPINES, SEA URCHIN PURSES, CORALS and SEASHELLS that are sold by jewelers, crafters, commercial dealers, craft stores and souvenir stores were harvested live. Many of these treasures come from the Philippines, Indonesia and many African coastal countries. The practice of harvesting these creatures en masse live is environmentally destructive.
I have travelled the world and have witnessed first hand the destruction of coral reef systems. A bleached and dead coral reef is a heartbreaking site especially if you have seen thriving coral reef systems that are teeming with colorful sea creatures. I will never forget a local in Huahine, Tahiti who was practically in tears while he was trying to explain to a tourist about the importance of living coral reefs - the tourist had just emerged from the water with a foot long branch of coral in her hand that she ripped from the reef while snorkeling. This destruction is carried out by tourists and also by the sea life/seashell industry.
The above picture is of a living Lettered Olive Snail on a beach on the west coast of Florida. The collection of living sea creatures by the sea life/seashell industry and beachgoers is depleting eco systems all over the world.
These live harvested treasures are still legally sold in the USA and throughout the world. Please think before purchasing items that may have been harvested live from the sea. Coral reefs systems and sea creatures are important for our future. Coral reef systems are akin to a rainforest in biodiversity.
Sadly, over the years I have encountered crafters and jewelers that have told me that the seashells, sand dollars and starfish that they use were not harvested live but were actually found by them. It may come as a surprise to many, especially the frauds, that it is fairly easy for many of us to tell. I have seen many instances where jewelers and crafters have claimed that they found these items themselves on their local beaches only their local beaches are on the Atlantic seaboard and the sea life/seashells in question are species that are unique to a region in the South Pacific. It is interesting when people claim to have found these items yet have never travelled to the locations where these creatures live. There are types of seashells that live at great depths and never wash up on the beach and are harvested live by scuba divers or by dredging. I have seen instances where people claim that they found these types of seashells on the beach! There are many ways to determine if sea creatures, including seashells, were harvested live such as by the type of species, the condition, how it was preserved. Another criteria to look for with seashells is whether or not the mother of pearl texture is visible on the exterior of the seashell. If it is that means that the seashell has been immersed in sulfuric acid to remove the exterior surface to reveal the mother of pearl texture. As a beachcomber, scuba diver and traveller I have become very familiar with ocean ecology and the sea life/ seashell industry and can usually tell, even from a photograph, if a sea creature was harvested live.
Out Of The Blue Sea Glass Jewelry never uses sea creatures such as dried starfish, sand dollars, sea urchin spines etc. or seashells that were harvested live for jewelry or in photo shoots. All of the seashells in our photographs were found by us empty on the beach.