Sunday, August 06, 2006
Seeking Scallops Sans Success ... Sorta'
We usually seek scallops a little north of home base off the coast of Steinahatchee, but this year we went south to the Crystal River area. The short story version of this trip is, we didn't find many. I have already mentioned that briefly in an earlier post, but I have some pics now, so let's go snorkeling.
We'll cruise south after exiting the mouth of the Crystal River. Lucky us, we're poor and can't afford a big, deep draft boat. While everyone else heads out the deeper channel, we can shortcut across the shallows and head directly to the grassy flats and clear water.
Once we get into shallow, clear water... say 4-6 feet deep, it's just a matter of hopping over the side and looking for the scallopy rascals. I'll carry the cheapo underwater camera so we have something to remember this by. Slip on your fins, spit in your mask, toss out the dive flag and let's go!
Above, what's that? Way to go! You've found one already! The seafloor here is covered with seagrasses in a vast carpet that extends up and around the Big Bend. The scallop you found is sitting atop the grass blades busily filtering plankton from the clear warm water. He can sense you with his many eyes and will jet propel himself deeper into the grass if you dilly dally so... GRAB HIM WILL YA!
Oh yeah, watch the edges of the scallop shell. When they clamp down, sometimes they pinch. (...meant to tell you that ahead of time...)
Oh, hey good find! You found a patch of exposed hard bottom. We won't find any scallops here, but these are great for snorkel sightseeing. There's a flat sheet of limerock that underlies this submerged edge of Florida. That's what we're snorkeling over right now. It's under the grassy areas too, but here there's not enough sandy covering for the grasses to grow. See that crack in the limerock? If we could see in there, we'd see delicious stone crabs waiting for the safety of night to come out and prowl. That little mangrove snapper is hovering over it in case he needs to duck and cover.
Good eye! That's a heck of a sponge. We're not too far north of Tarpon Springs, which once was the center for the Florida sponge industry. These hardbottom areas actually support small round corals, but they never develop into Florida Keys style reefs here in the shallows due to cold winter temps.
I know you don't want to quit, but there's a big thunderhead building back in the direction we have to go to get back to port. Plus, the kids got into the ice chest and ate all the Church's fried chicken.
We've only grabbed a handful of scallops, not enough to make a meal, so let's tuck them down in the grass where maybe they'll get to spawn. There's always next year.
Race ya' back to the boat!
...Is that a bull shark behind you?
Posted by R.Powers at 10:12 AM