Sunday, August 11, 2013


It didn't look good as we crossed over the Apalachicola River a few weeks ago. We were heading west to St. Joe Bay to spend some time at our friend's BEAUTIFUL bay house.

Our goal was to stay as wet as possible for a few days, snorkeling, fishing, and of course ... scalloping.

We did all those things of course, and we did stay wet, but it wasn't all saltwater wetness as we had hoped for. Each day brought heavy grey clouds, blowing squalls, and just to shake things up ... brief interludes of bright sunshine.

Of course, we didn't let a little ominous weather stop us. Repeatedly, kayaks and canoes were launched from "The Bay House" on foraging missions.

Most of these were successful.

A few words about scalloping in case you have never been...

  • You need a saltwater fishing license.
  • Pay attention to the seasons and the limits. Go to for details.
  • In some shallow areas, people walk and pick them up, but generally this is a snorkeling activity in 6 feet or less of water.
  • Port St. Joe down to Crystal River is the part of Florida where scalloping is done/
  • Bring mask, fins, snorkel, dive flag, and a mesh bag or you'll wind up stuffing your pockets as you snorkel.
At one point, I wound up with 33 scallops in my bathing suit pockets because my mesh bag was in the wrong canoe.

These are the target... "Bay Scallops".
They lie about in the seagrass beds and filter plankton out of the water. You may find some strays out in the sandy patches with no grass, but most will be in the grass.

Scalloping isn't rocket science, but it's almost as much fun.

You just snorkel along, enjoying the scenery and sea life until you spot a scallop on the bottom or perched up on the grass.

Then you grab it.

Easy peasy... but ... I have to tell you about what comes next.

Being a successful scallop predator means you now have to clean them.

There is a shopvac method which seems so much like cheating that I will not even discuss it here.

Better to cement your hunter-gatherer clan bonds by sitting down together and cleaning the kill.

Traditional American scallop consumption involves only the white adductor muscle that opens and closes the two shells. So unlike oysters, muscles, and clams, we discard the visceral mass (body) of the scallop for that one white muscle.

Don't ask me why, I'm just going to answer "tradition".

One of these days, I'm going to eat the whole thing and see if it's a flavor thing. I doubt it since some cultures eat the entire thing.

The prize.
You can go Google "how to clean scallops" or you can marry someone who grew up doing it like I did.
There are a few tricks to it, but it's not difficult once you do a few.

(That last sentence above refers to cleaning scallops not marriage)

At the end of the day, the guts and shells went back into the bay much to the delight of the pinfish who swarmed the pile of shells and cleaned them of every speck of flesh in minutes.

As usual, when I stick my head beneath the waters of my beloved Florida, I take the GoPro camera.

The video below is a 5 minute edited version of some of the better video clips and it shows among other things, scalloping technique, me scaring the bejeezus out of my son, and a creepy crab encounter.




Lisa at Greenbow said...

This looks like an underwater easter egg hunt. Interesting. I live in the midwest. No scallops here.

Island Rider said...

We haven't been scalloping in years. Need to put that on the to do list! I won a radio contest once because I knew scallops' eyes were blue. Glad to see one "swimming". People don't know how much fun it is to chase them down !

Jeannie Marie said...

I live in the area but have never been scalloping or snorkeling. They seem amazingly easy to find and I really liked the end when you had the crab! Thanks for taking me along via video.

Crackerboy said...

When I was a kid we used to visit relatives in the New Port Richey area. Back then you could wade in the shallows and harvest them with a rake. The times, they are a'changin'.

robin andrea said...

Cool video. Love seeing what's going on under the water like that.

Carol said...

Looks like fun....the video really makes it a "must do"'s on the list with shrimping.

Thanks for the video.

Gotta have one of those cameras too.

R.Powers said...

I suppose it is that only wet!

Lots of fun and you are close to the action!

I never get tired of sticking my head and my camera underwater.

Some years they are not so amazingly easy to find, but most years are good. You should try it.

Yes, that's where my wife grew up and learned to clean them in a speedy manner.

Yes to both things! Go scalloping and get a GoPro!

Dawn said...

I never realized they - scallops - swam. Always thought they crept along on the bay floor. The crab reminded me of a tick so bad - I know they are part of the arachnid family but that gave me the heebie-jeebies for sure!

R.Powers said...

Hey Dawn,
They do a form of jet propulsion by squirting water out of their shells. It's pretty random, direction-wise, but it might be enough to get away from a crab or starfish predator.

R.Powers said...

Hey Dawn,
They do a form of jet propulsion by squirting water out of their shells. It's pretty random, direction-wise, but it might be enough to get away from a crab or starfish predator.

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