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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Scallop Season is Coming!

Bay scallops are bivalve molluscs that can be found on Florida's west coast.  They are usually found living in 4-8 feet of water and are bottom dwellers.   Previously harvested and sold commercially, they are now only available for recreational harvesting during a specific, regulated season.  A Florida salt-water fishing license is required for those over 15 years of age.  Open harvest season for bay scallops along Florida's Gulf Coast runs July 1-September 10. 

As a family, we enjoy harvesting and eating scallops.  Last year, we had a great time on Florida's Forgotten Coast, near Carrabelle, FL, in search of these fascinating and delicious molluscs.  My children floated for hours participating in this shallow-water treasure hunt. 

As we prepared for this year's trip, my ever-present thirst for knowledge reared its head and I began searching for information on the life cycle, migration habits, anatomy and any other information on scallops I could find, including recipes.  A unit study on vacation you ask?  Why not?
This is what we look for while gently gliding through the water with our snorkel, mask, fins and of course a mesh bag to stash the critters.

Maybe you've only seen a scallop sauteed in butter and garlic or perhaps battered and fried? Upon initial inspection, the bay scallop doesn't really appear fascinating while resting in its natural habitat.  But, wait!  

Bay Scallop Eyes and Gills
The scallop has eyes, brilliant neon blue eyes, lining the edge of both shells.  This picture does not do justice to the gorgeous color blue.   And how about those other little things (I WILL find out the proper name before my unit study ends)?  Makes it look like a venus flytrap!

When eating a scallop, the edible portion is just a tiny party of the whole scallop. It's actually the adductor muscle that opens and closes the shells.  (There are two shells, hence the name bi-valve mollusc.)   I intend to learn, right along with my children, about all the other parts that we discard when we clean these delicacies in preparation for dinner.

Ever seen a scallop swim?  Here is a great video showing the amazing maneuvers these molluscs can make.

   Below are the links I'm using as resources. We have some marine biology texts at home that we will also use.  Why not plan your own family trip to harvest scallops? 

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has a page on the anatomy and life cycle here.
Wikipedia Entry


  1. I never knew scallops had eyes, and so many at that. Great blog!

  2. I want to go with you! We went scalloping several years ago, and although I don't care to eat them, I sure do enjoy the Easter egg hunt-like experience!

  3. I would love to learn right along with you all! Keep us posted!! :)