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Don’t Dump Scallop Shells in the canals

By Meaghan Goepferich Posted on July 28, 2021

Scallop season is in full swing, and we love to dive down and grab up the white shells filled with delicious scallops. However, please be mindful not to toss those shells back into the canals!

Don’t Dump Scallop Shells in the canals

Every scalloper that goes out into the Gulf of Mexico to collect is allowed a maximum bag limit. This equates to 2 gallons of whole scallops (in the shell), or 1 pint of scallop meat per person per day. There are also limits per vessel with no more than 10 gallons in the shell or ½ a gallon of shucked meat.

On average, we get thousands of visitors that usually collect their max allowance plus all of our local hunters. That means, if everyone is dumping roughly 10 gallons of empty shells in the canal or on the spring floors, and 10 gallons can equate to 12 square feet of bottom coverage in our waterways, then roughly thousands of square feet can end up covered due to improper dumping in the freshwater systems.

Why is that a problem?

Shells can accumulate and blanket areas around the boat ramps and docks. This kills the vegetation on the bottom and destroys the habitat for fish, crabs, and manatees. Scallops were reintroduced to local gulf waters in a project that has been incredibly successful!  They live offshore in beds of seagrass, but scallops don’t live in our Kings Bay fresh water.  In King’s Bay there isn’t a heavy tidal action to bury them deep in the shifting sands.  The shells end up being trash that stops the growth of plants in places where they are dumped and nothing in Kings Bay and Crystal River feeds on those shells or removes them from the canals.  So, don’t toss back your scallop shells into the river, or the bay, or canals! Use them in a decorative way or put them in a place on land where hard shell fill is desirable.

If each of us try to be responsible about our harvest the springs will be much healthier during scallop season. Then, we can all enjoy the summer without worries of regulations looming overhead. Fortunately, we have a solution for spring impacts from these shells. Just practice responsible dumping! It only takes a thought!

Fun Craft ideas for Scallop Shells!
First, make sure you clean the shells by getting rid of excess meat (use it for bait!). Trust us, you do NOT want to experience the smell if any bits are left over.

Then GET CREATIVE! A quick Pinterest search gave us a ton of ideas including mermaid hair clips, scallop shell jewelry holders, framed scallop shell wall art, and scallop shell pot planters!

If you’re not the creative type you can still re purpose your shells! Cleaned scallop shells are great as natural garden mulch, or crush them for fill, DIY driveway/walkway areas, or for chickens. (Yes chickens can eat oyster shell, so why not scallop shells?)

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