Scalloping on Nantucket is a beautiful thing!
October 1 on Nantucket Island marks the beginning of family scalloping season. It is a perfect time on Nantucket, after the hustle bustle of the summer season and the winding down in September, with lots of mild days and clear blue skies left to enjoy.
In preparation for scalloping, Nantucketers dust off their waders, reinflate the inner tubes that keeps their wire collection baskets afloat, check the knots on the rope that will attach the inner tube to the scallopers, check the arm’s length waterproof rubber gloves for leaks, pack their 10′ long scallop rakes into the car (or out the window, or in the bed of the pickup) – and head out to the ‘best’ scalloping beach as the tide is reaching its low point, to haul in their bounty!
Scallops are found near to shore in eel grass beds. The scalloper uses a push-pull action on the rake to dislodge the scallops from their grassy beds and plop them into the rake’s net. After the luckiest (7, 10, 2, 15, more??) number of push-pulls, the net is pulled to the surface and the catch examined. Only adult scallops that show a clear growth ring on the shell are ‘legal’ to be harvested. Seed scallops, crabs, seaweed and eel grass go back into the water – and the adult scallops, winking and spurting, are added to the collection basket.
Speaking as a non-sportswoman, non-angler and non-hunter -being chest deep in the cool water in a Nantucket Harbor on a cool but sunny October day, enjoying the sounds of the lapping water, the sight of dozens of fellow scallopers doing the push-pull thing AND coming home with several pounds (after shucking) of absolutely delicious, sweet and succulent enough to eat raw, scallops – approaches perfection!
When the basket is full, the scalloper heads on back to the shore and carries the rake and heavy basket brimming with scallops back to the car to head on home for the shucking, cooking and eating!
See you on Island – Michelle Langlois, the Nantucket Bed and Breakfast Inn accidental innkeeper.