Jewels in the Gulf

I was in Tallahassee, Florida recently to visit my elderly father. My sister, her husband, and various of their friends often take me on nature adventures when I’m down there–expeditions I would never entertain on my own. With the oil steadily encroaching on the Gulf coastline, they are particularly cognizant of how fleeting these moments might be.

Last week, the adventure involved scalloping. We motored out to a shallow grassy area off Keaton Beach and anchored in about 3 feet of water. Then we plopped overboard with snorkel, fins, and mesh bags. The scallops rest on the sand or the grassy flats, looking for predators with a half-circle of brilliant blue eyes. scallop-4They can propel themselves quickly by squirting water with their muscles. (This photo was taken by photographer David Moynahan, who collected the largest sack of scallops and then returned over the weekend to capture them on film.) Because of my mixed feelings about killing these creatures and several sighting of a giant ray (yes the very ray that killed the TV nature star with sting to the heart,) my adventure was abbreviated.

My fellow hunter-gatherers filled their sacks–a bounteous harvest in comparison to my dozen and a half. And all of that bounty made for a long, long afternoon of cleaning. And scraping the guts out of hundreds of shells left me yearning for something other than seafood for dinner.

We ordered a vegetarian pizza…

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