Science for Everyone

Diving into Scallops: Looking for Friendly Bivalves

Written by Dive Intern, Flora Gibbs

It’s hard to believe we’ve already been out on Hurricane Island for over a month! As part of the seasonal summer staff, I arrived on the island on June 9th. After a week of orientation, we dove right into our respective roles. I am part of the research team, and I get to spend my time working with scallops and planning SCUBA dives around the island. 

 This year, we are trying to implement a new research project that involves diving around the island and surrounding area and looking for- you guessed it- scallops! I’ve picked some sites out for us to dive, and we started by doing a practice dive out in the mooring field. Madison, Phoebe, and I laid out a 50-meter transect tape and counted all the scallops we could find within a meter on either side of the tape. 

 Let me tell you, 50 meters is a long way underwater and scallops are very hard to see! Their shells are covered with brown fibrous material consisting of bryozoans, seaweeds, barnacles, flat clams, and other fouling organisms. They end up looking exactly like the ocean floor. I ended up watching for the movement of the shell closing, because when the scallop sees me it shuts its shell in alarm! As the shell closes, a little puff of seafloor muck rises up, and that tells me there is a scallop hidden. Some of the scallops I found were almost as big as my face! Since this area was just dragged for scallops this past winter, it seems that some have escaped the fishing unscathed!

 As Madison and I counted scallops, Phoebe followed along behind and took pictures with the GoPro. Figuring out the best way to take pictures is going to take some time. I’m thinking I’ll practice taking pictures on land before we go in the water next time.

 This upcoming week we will be conducting another two dives, this time off the boat up by the aquaculture site to the north end of the island and in Valley Cove. Wish us luck and scallops!

Phoebe figures out how to take a selfie underwater!

Look closely and see if you can see the scallop!

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