Scallops Scuba Diving in Florida

Situated in western Florida, Crystal River scalloping is one of the most popular summertime activities. The Florida Bay Scallop is a bivalve mollusk that has an external two-part hinged shell. The scallops live in seagrass beds and shallow water and predominantly found in specific locations on Florida’s west coast and areas near Crystal River.

Visiting Crystal River

The scallop season in Crystal River only lasts from July through to September and the area is renowned for its scallops and manatees. Scallops move around day to day and seasons may also affect their abundance, depending on different environmental factors.

Situated in western Florida, the Crystal River region is enveloped in natural unspoiled beauty with over 30 springs feeding into the river and creating one of the best scalloping spots in the world.

Things to do

Crystal River offers a fun-filled list of family activities that include the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge for manatees, various aquatic and outdoor pursuits, shopping, and cultural interests.

The area has a wide choice of hotels, inns, and holiday rentals that offer great hospitality and service.

Let’s Go Scalloping

When preparing for your hunt, find a Crystal River scalloping map so you don’t waste time exploring the wrong places for scallops. Ensure you’re within the season dates and be mindful of the weather changes at all times. If any storms approach, it’s time to call it a day on scalloping.

Catching scallops is an easy, fun activity for the whole family and a cheap option for supper. Follow the tips below so you can be fully prepared for your first scallop catch.

  1. Florida saltwater fishing license for people aged 16 to 65 years.
  2. Hire a boat or join a tour to reach the scallop area.
  3. Mask, snorkel, fins, gloves, and a small catching net.
  4. A diver down flag to warn nearby boats that people are in the water.
  5. A mesh bag to transport the scallops.

Harvesting scallops

When you find the scalloping spots in Crystal River, the simplest technique is to slowly swim or float face down, over the area (e.g. sea grass beds) where the scallops are nestled. Look for the whole shell or iridescent blue eyes peeking out from below.

When you spot a scallop, dive down and scoop it up into your mesh bag. While they don’t actually bite, they could clamp onto your finger.

Preparing scallops

When you have your licensed limit of scallops, get them onto ice as soon as possible to preserve the tender meat.

This also helps open the shells slightly. You can use a scallop cleaning service to prepare them properly or you can do it yourself with a scallop or oyster knife.

Open the shell completely and cut the muscle out. It may take some practice to keep it intact while removing it. Once all the meat is extracted, get them onto the heat and fry them up. Scallops are generally safe to eat, have a nutritious profile that includes trace minerals and protein, and they are low in calories.

Scalloping Regulations

Specific rules and guidelines are in place when scuba diving for scallops.  These regulations are set out by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) where scalloping is restricted to certain zones, dates, and catch limits.

The daily catch limit per person is 2 gallons (over 7.5 liters) of whole shelled scallops or 1 pint (almost half a liter) of scallop meat.

These rules have helped ease initial concerns on over-fishing and the many species of scallops are monitored to detect declining numbers.