Crystal River – Summer 2021 Scalloping!

At the end of my Crystal River – Summer 2021 post, I indicated the next post would focus on the ‘scalloping’ part of the trip. I’m finally getting around to completing the last few details of that post. Here you go………………..

Argopecten irradians – WHAT? That’s the scientific name for the Florida bay scallops. Found in shallow, nearshore waters along Florida’s Gulf coast. These bivalves are usually found nestled in seagrass beds and have really cool electric-blue eyes. They move by opening & closing their shells rapidly, pushing themselves across the seabed.

Okay – that’s probably enough of the educational piece for this post. 🙂

We had pretty decent days for fishing while at Crystal River but for a short period of each year, Scalloping is the main purpose for most visitors, and we were no exception. I’m not here to scallop but enjoy the fruits of Eric’s labor – thanks hon.

A few essentials are needed: mesh bag, goggles or snorkle and fins. Otherwise, it is about slowly moving around the boat, eyes down peering through the seagrass for the scallops.

Fins up and head down – always a good sign.

Enough of those tactics and you end up back on the boat with a bag of scallops. It’s not really that easy…………but if you find a good spot that hasn’t been picked over, you’ll end up with a bag like this – probably 15 inside.

Now comes the fun part – NOT!

Getting the edible part of the scalloping out of the shell requires patience and a strong stomach as you scrape out the shell. Scallop guts go into the trash can and the muscle is the part eaten. Notice the ‘equipment’ needed for this strategic operation? A spoon.

When all’s done you should end with a nice bowl of bay scallops: small 1″ pieces of white seafood flesh, about the diameter of your thumb.

My favorite way to eat them is sitting in some soy sauce, a dab of hot sauce and angel hair cabbage for a bit of crunch. Eric leaves off the cabbage for his. Serving them in their (cleaned) shell adds a bit of ‘something’ to the dish.

Did I mention the photo above with the scallops are not cooked?

Another tasty way to enjoy this delicacy is with pasta – a little olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes yielded this dish.

Our first day of scalloping yielded this bounty.

With our second day of scalloping yielding these bivalves.

Typically, shells are dark & mottled on top and lighter on their bottom shell, better camouflage amongst the seagrass floor of the Gulf. The orange shell is considered rare and a product of their colorful parents.

It was a fun trip, catching fish and snorkeling for scallops.

Ginny