Florida Treasures: Explore the Gulf during scallop season

Florida's natural wonders allow for endless exploration. From the beginning of July to the end of September, adventurers can go scalloping in the Gulf.

Florida’s natural wonders allow for endless exploration. From the beginning of July to the end of September, adventurers can go scalloping in the Gulf.

You can scallop near Gulf, Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson, Taylor, Dixie, Levy, Citrus and Hernando counties. Before you go, check the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website for exact dates. The season start and end dates differ per county. Gulf County is under a delay right now.

Captain Mary Morgan leads kayaking, diving and scalloping tours through the Crystal River Kayak Company and Dive Center.

“I’ve been working on Crystal River for 11 years now. I moved here from the West Coast, from Seattle, and found Crystal River and decided that it’s a great place to live,” Morgan said.

When scalloping, you need to find clear water so you can see to the sea floor. Morgan looks for water that is around 4 or 5 feet deep.

The water is clear enough to let participants see fish, shells and rocks. If you’re lucky, you might get a glimpse of dolphins or pass by manatees in Crystal River.

Morgan said the hunt and snorkeling are the best parts of scalloping. “It’s the journey, you know. It’s not the end result,” she said. “We’re out there having a good time, on the Gulf, in the salt water. It’s a wonderful way to spend a day, and sometimes you get a nice little meal at the end.”

Eleven-year-old Will Gardoqui recently went diving. Will’s from Maine. He had never heard of scallops. But this young nature lover took a liking to life at sea.

“I like snorkeling,” said Will, who caught eight scallops. “You could see everything.”

Scallops are grey and white. They are found in tall grasses or on sandy patches. Once you catch a scallop, make sure you don’t get nipped.

You can collect up to 2 gallons of scallops per person - per day. Complete rules are available here.

To go scalloping, you need to find a licensed captain. Check with that person or the company to see what you need to bring.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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