41 NW US Hwy 19 Crystal River, Florida 34428
Dive for Your Dinner
Call it an Easter Egg Hunt: Florida-style.
Every summer, the star of the sea is the delectable Bay Scallop, found in the warm, shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a fun family-friendly underwater adventure; all you need is a mask, snorkel, flippers, and one exceptional charter captain.
Don’t worry about dinner either. Once you’re back, you can even bring your catch to a local restaurant that will cook it for you. It’s a venerable local tradition and a Florida family favorite.
Safe navigation on our waterways is everyone’s responsibility. All operators are equally responsible for taking action necessary for safe boating. This includes understanding navigation rules, speed laws, manatee laws, and providing adequate safety equipment and obtaining all proper licenses for vessel operation.
For fishing, a saltwater and/or freshwater fishing license is required for all boaters between the ages of 16 and 64. There may be exceptions to this, so before beginning your excursion, familiarize yourself with the laws found on the FWC website.
Scalloping season begins at the beginning of July until early September every year. Harvesting is done about 2-3 miles from shore in the gulf, and can be found almost anywhere eelgrass is located.
The bag limit is 2 gallons of whole scallops per person per day; or 1 pint of scallop meat per person per day. In addition, no more than 10 gallons of whole scallops (or ½ gallon of scallop meat) may be possessed aboard any vessel at any time.
It is also important to note that a dive flag is required for any vessel with swimmers in the water. The dive flag must be at least 20” x 24” with a stiffener to keep the flag unfurled. The flag must be displayed at the highest point on the vessel whenever swimmers are in the water. All swimmers need to stay within 300 feet of this flag for safety reasons.
If you’re scalloping with a tour operator, then you’ll likely only need a swim suit and a towel. Most tour operators provide everything else you’ll need, including a license, when you arrive. However, always call and check with your tour operator to verify.
You’ll need a mask to see underwater and find the scallops. A snorkel will allow you to keep your eyes underwater while still allowing you to breathe. Fins are a smart choice, since swimming can become exhausting, especially on hot days. A mesh bag for carrying your catch will also be important since scallops can pinch.
If you’re not a strong swimmer, consider taking a life jacket or a flotation device with you while you swim. You can dive down to the scallops and return to your floatation device, allowing you to conserve energy and help prevent accidental drowning.
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