3/15/23 – Visitors have second thoughts, return sand and coral
From time to time, DAR receives anonymous mail from visitors to Hawai‘i who return something they regret having taken. Much like the famous stories of lava rocks being returned to Hawai‘i Volcanos National Park because of bad luck, we open packages containing sand and coral that visitors took home with them as mementos of their time in the islands.
While beautiful, even dead coral, which includes rubble and sand, are a part of the marine ecosystem. Removing them can possibly upset the natural balance of each location they are removed from. In addition, it is illegal to take sand, dead coral, or coral rubble statewide per Hawai‘i Revised Statute (HRS) §171-58.5 and §205A-44.
Collecting beach glass and shells is still allowed. But if you’re collecting shells for the purposes of commercial activity, a Commercial Marine License is required per HRS §189-2,3 and Hawai‘i Administrative Rule §13-74-20. Depending on your commercial activity, more requirements and responsibilities may apply.
Your best bet is to leave everything as you found it, so that future visitors to Hawai‘i can experience the same magic you had on your visit! Mahalo for your kokua!