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Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater. The start of a second season is another opportunity for people from around the world to come to the county, he said. This is the second year boaters have been allowed to drop anchor and suit up in snorkel gear in search of bay scallops in Pasco County waters.
A ban had kept scallop divers out of Pasco waters for 25 years. Pasco's mini season lasts 10 days. Longer scalloping seasons in neighboring Hernando and Citrus counties started July 1, and some have reported a struggle to find scallops. Official counts from Fish and Wildlife Commission preseason surveys show Citrus County with a drop from an average of Hernando County had an average of 2 scallops per square meters this year.
But there was little fluctuation in the s for Pasco County. Last year's average was 6. This year it was 6. Fish and Wildlife officials have said the drop is not a cause for concern yet, as scallop populations are cyclical and weather from Hurricane Michael could have pushed them out to deeper waters. The Commission is monitoring population counts from year to year and checking the of end-of-season surveys, Graef said. For Devon Soldano, a charter captain and owner of Mermaid Slayers in Tarpon Springs, the mini season is more about the experience than about how abundant the scallops are.
He takes groups out all year for private events, fishing, scuba diving and recently ferried a family to spread ashes of a loved one. The best way to get the scallops is to dive and bring a small net, he said. Scallops often live in thick, tall grass. Finding them can be difficult. One crew member, Brendan Schorden, went in the water for about a half hour and had no luck finding a scallop in the murky water. The Mermaid Slayers boat was anchored near Anclote Key Preserve State Park, where dozens of other boats also were stopped in search of scallops.
Mermaid Slayers was booked for a week, although Soldano said he might take a day off to go out with his family. They took a few groups out last year, but the weather was bad for most of the day season, he said. Pasco County officials hope the popularity of scallop season grows. They plan to invest in improvements at Anclote River Park.
At a July meeting, county commissioners approved a land swap between Duke Energy and the county that would allow the parks department to improve traffic flow and trailer parking and possibly add boat ramps. The Pasco County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department surveyed scallopers during the season's first weekend and will continue surveying this weekend.
Officials said that on average ,people found 20 scallops per boat, with one group bringing in Subscribe Manage my subscription Activate my subscription Log in Log out. Regions Tampa St. Letters to the Editor Submit a Letter. Investigations Narratives Pulitzer Winners. Connect with us. About us. Obituaries Homes Jobs Classifieds. Careers Advertise Legal Contact. Log in. Manage my subscription Activate my subscription Log out. Dive, dive, dive: Scallop season begins in Pasco County.
Published Jul. Up next: Sprouts begins the supermarket sweepstakes in Pasco's Trinity-to-Odessa corridor. Boat fire on Tampa Bay causes occupants to jump off Jul. Red Tide suspected as manatees deaths pile up in Tampa Bay Jul. Hillsborough commissioner seeks fertilizer ban Jul.Time in Pasco meetings in the herdon area
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