Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summer Learning: Bay Scalloping in FLORIDA

Sadly, I missed the Sonlight May Blog Party, but I am back on track for June.  One of my favorite learning activities in the Summer is scalloping,  so for this month's blog post, I'll share an edited version of an old post about scalloping in Florida*.  Even if you aren't in Florida, maybe it will inspire you to find something in nature to study with your children and pair it with an activity.  Summer Science has always been a focus for us, especially when they children were younger.  

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 usually begins in July and runs through September.  You can find the current season and more info at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission site.

As a family, we enjoy harvesting and eating scallops.  Our favorite place to scallop is on Florida's Forgotten Coast, near Carrabelle, FL, which is right about in the 'Big Bend' of Florida. There is only a certain zone where bay scallops can be harvested.
Bay Scallop Zone Map

 My children float for hours participating in a shallow-water treasure hunt searching for these fascinating and delicious molluscs.

One year, as we prepared for a 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 blue hue.   Doesn't it look like a venus flytrap?
The edible portion of a scallop is actually the adductor muscle that opens and closes the shells.  (There are two shells, hence the name bi-valve mollusc.)  

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

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has a page on the anatomy and life cycle of the scallop. Why not plan your own family trip to harvest scallops? 

*This post was previously shared on my old blog "Traveling with Children"

Sonlight Blog Party


  1. I so want to go again this year! Are you going? (Loved this post the first time too :)

    1. I don't have a plan yet. Maybe we could go together! Since we don't have the boat access anymore, we may need to charter. I hear Steinhatchee is a great place to go.

  2. What an interesting post! This is something our family has never had the opportunity to do. Sounds fun! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment!

  3. Totally fun! We've really enjoyed visiting our state parks in the summer. That's the best.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. What state are you in? I want to explore our Florida Springs some more this year too.


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