Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Get an early start on scooping scallops

Canaries of the sea

Scallops need a mixture of saltwater and freshwater to survive. The state's prime scallop grounds — Homosassa, Crystal River and Steinhatchee — are located where freshwater and saltwater mix.

Scallops are delicate creatures. Researchers have often compared them with a "canary in a coal mine." When scallops disappear from an estuary, it is a sure sign that something is wrong.

If rains are heavy or in years with numerous hurricanes, too much freshwater may flood the bay and wipe out a crop. In times of drought, the water can get too salty and scallops won't survive that, either.

Scallop grounds

In 1994, with scallop stocks declining, state officials shut down the commercial season everywhere in the state and the recreational season south of the Suwannee River.

In 2001, state officials reopened the area between the Suwannee and the Pasco-Hernando county line because the stocks had recovered.

However, recreational scalloping still was prohibited south of the Pasco-Hernando county line, which included the waters surrounding Anclote Key, once a prime hunting ground for local scallopers.

Researchers from the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg and the University of South Florida have embarked on an aggressive restocking or "seeding" program that is beginning to bear fruit. The time may soon come when scalloping is again allowed in Tampa Bay.

If you go

Scallop season along Florida's Gulf Coast runs through Sept. 10. It is legal to gather scallops north of the Pasco-Hernando county line to the west bank of the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County.

It is against the law to possess bay scallops on the water outside open harvest areas. It is also illegal to land scallops outside open harvest areas.

It is legal to land up to 2 gallons of whole bay scallops in the shell, or 1 pint of scallop meat each day during the open season. Recreational scallopers cannot possess more than 10 gallons of whole bay scallops in the shell or a half-gallon of meat aboard any boat.

You may catch bay scallops only by hand or with a landing or dip net. They cannot be sold for commercial purposes.

Great Scallop Search

Tampa Bay Watch, one of the area's leading environmental groups, is hosting its annual Great Bay Scallop Search on Aug. 28.

Volunteer boaters and snorkelers team up to search for scallops in select areas of Boca Ciega and Lower Tampa Bays.

The purpose of this program is to monitor and document the health and status of the bay scallop population.

A record high of 674 scallops were found last year, which shows water quality has improved across Tampa Bay, thanks to the work of Bay Watch and other groups.

Registration information will be available at tampabaywatch.org next month.

Fourth of July weekend is always one big party for scallopers on the Nature Coast. But this year, snorkelers can hit the water 12 days earlier than usual. The state is opening scallop season Saturday, instead of July 1, to help alleviate some of the economic hardship on Florida's fishing communities that is likely to occur as a result of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

. FAST FACTS

Bay scallop

Scientific name: Argopecten irradians

Distribution: Florida's west coast and east coast, as far north as West Palm Beach

Size: About 2 inches fully grown

Habitat: Grass beds and shallow waters of estuaries

Life span: 12-18 months

For more scallop information, go to MyFWC.com

Get an early start on scooping scallops 06/17/10 [Last modified: Thursday, June 17, 2010 9:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Yellow cards stall Rowdies offense in tie with St. Louis

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — It's not the result they wanted, but it certainly could have been worse. Neill Collins' 87th-minute header off a corner kick was the reward the Rowdies settled for Saturday night during a 1-1 draw with St. Louis before an announced 6,068 at Al Lang Stadium.

  2. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title

    Baseballpreps

    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.
  3. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”
  4. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. laughing right along after comical dive

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Souza being Souza.

    That seemed to be the best way to describe the entertaining — and comically bad — dive Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. attempted in Friday's game, and the good humor he showed in handling the fallout, including a standing ovation his next at-bat from the …

    Twitter
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Twins game

    The Heater

    RHP Jake Odorizzi had to battle without his best stuff again, which is becoming a more common occurrence, leading to long at-bats — including 13 pitches to Kennys Vargas in the fifth — and running up his pitch count to 118 without finishing the sixth.