5 Things You Need to Know about Scalloping


Scallops—A Brief Anatomy

First of all, we need to know what we’re hunting. So, what is a scallop? A scallop is similar to a clam or oyster in that it’s a type of bivalve mollusk. Within its hard shell body, we find its muscles, glands, and other organs. The adductor muscle is what we pick out from between those two shells and cook up for dinner. A fascinating feature of the scallop is its 30 bright blue eyes which can sometimes help you find them more quickly. 

Where to Find Bay Scallops

One way to make scalloping more efficient is to know where to hunt them. Since we’ll be hunting bay scallops, a good place to start is the Northwest to Western Central coast of Florida. The Gulf of Mexico is abundant with scallops in this area, specifically just south of Port St. Joe and north of Tampa. Scallops make their homes in seagrass beds in about 4-10 feet of water all along this stretch of coast, which makes it rather easy for us to take a quick dip down to get them. 

The Right Gear for Scalloping

Before you head all the way over there, stop by Divers Direct Orlando to grab all the necessary gear you need to get going. Here’s a list of recommended gear for your scalloping adventures:

How to Get to Where You’re Going

Now that you have your gear, let’s get you to these grass beds. There are a few ways you can get there. The most common way to go is by boat. You can rent a boat, take your own, or charter a boat to head out to these hot spots. Other ways to get there include paddleboarding, shore diving (if your destination isn’t too far from shore), or kayaking. Since this area around this time is incredibly populated by boats, just remember to be vigilant and hyper-visible when taking a small, non-motorized vessel.

Catching Scallops in the Wild

Once you’ve made it to your seagrass bed of choice, make sure your divers down flag is up and jump in! If it’s a sunny day in the Sunshine State, you may be able to see those plentiful blue eyes glittering in the light.

Otherwise you’ll notice the scallops by their rock-like appearance. Once you have one in hand, place it in your collection bag and keep going. You can pick them up bare-handed, which is the easiest method, but if you are concerned about getting pinched—which can happen—you can wear gloves or use a fishing net to scoop them up. Once you’ve reached your limit, be sure to put them in a bucket of salt water to keep them fresh until it’s time to shuck, clean, and eat them. 

When you get going be sure to snap a few pictures, share them far and wide and tag us @diversdirect so we can see your scalloping adventures in action. 

Check your area’s season and limits here:

Scalloping FAQs

What are scallops, really? 

Scallops are a type of mollusk, similar to an oyster or a clam, that has a hard shell exterior and a dinner-worthy interior. 

Can I go scalloping year-round? 

Negative. Scallops have their seasons of abundance like many other marine animals. Check with the FWC to see when the pickin’s ripe (and legal) in your area. 

Do scallops bite? 

Scallops don’t technically bite, but they can sometimes close their shells on your fingers which can pinch a bit. For this reason, some prefer to wear gloves while scalloping or you can scoop them up with a net. 

Are there different types of scallops? 

  Bay scallops are what we’re hunting for and are found along Florida’s western coast in beds of seagrass. Their cousins, sea scallops, are on Florida’s Atlantic side and are larger than bay scallops.

Do I need a license to scallop?

You’ll need a Florida saltwater fishing license to collect scallops, though there are a few exceptions to the rule. The FWC page has all the updated information you need about licensing.