There are many stories of amateurs and professionals who have used a metal detector to find lost buried treasure around the world. With Florida’s history of sunken ships, it is tempting for you to take your metal detector and hunt in the shallow Florida Gulf waters.
However, there are laws governing when, where, and how you can use your metal detector in this popular area. If you do not obey the laws, you can end up in trouble and lose all your fun.
There is a law on shallow water metal detecting
It is called the Florida’s State Laws of Antiquities. This law prohibits metal detecting in certain areas along the Gulf and Florida coasts. Not only does it govern specific state lands it also addresses shallow water metal detecting.
The law also spells out what can or cannot be taken from the location you found your treasure. On top of this law, different cities and counties have their own metal-detecting laws as well.
You will have to find out what those laws are and adhere to them. Florida does not have a finder’s keeper law when artifacts are found under the water. Anything found that has been there for more than 50 years is the property of the state.
But if you find something of value on the public beach, then it is yours. Of course, you cannot use your metal detector on any private property without the permission of the owner.
Using a Metal Detector Underwater
As you know, the Florida Gulf is a tidal body of water. That means that as the tide goes out, you can explore deeper underwater areas safely. These are said to be some of the best areas to do your metal detecting.
There are laws governing this aspect of metal detecting. Archaeological or historical sites are protected by at least one law and no one can remove any artifact or disturb them.
When you are going to do some metal detecting off public beaches and in shallow waters, you are not allowed to disturb flora and fauna during your search either.
Make sure to know the laws of the region you are doing your metal detecting. Violating the law can bring some penalties from law enforcement officials.
There may be a metal-detecting permit requirement
If you are going to do your metal detecting on the state or county land, you may be required to fill out an application form to get a permit. The form asks for your personal information and so on.
Be prepared to lose any artifact you find if the item has been reported as lost or stolen, or if it turns out to be a historical item. If you do not obey all the rules, you could be banned from metal detecting for up to one year.
Some final words
Make sure to check out all the laws for the area you want to do your metal detecting. Each city and county has its own rules on this adventure.