If you're planning on going scalloping in Florida's Gulf coast waters beginning next month, experts say you might find your catch a little sparse.
The bay scalloping season starts July 1 and runs through September 10. It's allowed from the Pasco/Hernando County line north to the west bank of the Mexico Beach canal in Bay County. Most folks simply wade in shallow water with buckets.
The Homosassa area is one of the prime scalloping areas of the state, but a survey there says this year's population is only five percent of last year's. In St. Joseph Bay, the population is down about ten percent.
The Florida Marine Institute in St. Petersburg blames the situation on heavy rain last fall. Experts say scallops don't do well when water salinity levels go down.
Commercial harvesting of bay scallops is illegal in Florida. Those you find in stores are largely from Chile or from China.