NEW ORLEANS, La. (BRPROUD) – A husband and wife recently returned from a cruise through the Western Caribbean.

The cruise spanned seven days and included stops in Montego Bay, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.

The couple was stopped in the seaport terminal and asked to submit to a baggage examination.

“Upon inspection, the Agriculture Specialist discovered a large quantity of various aquatic items such as seashells, coral, etc,” according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The couple confessed to collecting the items during the trip.

The husband and wife wanted to use the aquatic items in art projects.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service detailed what was seized from the couple:

  • Nine sea fans (Gorgonia sp.)
  • 47 sea sponges (Porifera)
  • Five Queen conch shells (Strombus gigas)
  • Three pieces of bone
  • 297 shells (molluscs)
  • 68 stony coral (Scleractinia)
  • 25 pieces of crabs (crustacean)
  • 30 sea urchins (Echinodermata
  • 21 mussel shells (molluscs)
  • Four chiton (molluscs)

“While these aquatic items may look nice, the import/export of them needs to be regulated to protect these natural resources.” said Terri Edwards, New Orleans Area Port Director.

In total, 509 prohibited aquatic Items were seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

“Removing these items from the wild has a negative impact on plant and wildlife habitats and affects opportunities for others to appreciate and enjoy these species. These types of activities go against the very conservation ethic at the heart of federal wildlife laws that serve the public interest,” said Special Agent in Charge Stephen Clark.