NORTH SEA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Bay scallops – the tiny, tender delicacies with a short harvesting season – are just about nowhere to be found.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, Long Island East End diggers, fishermen and seafood lovers have all been left asking what is going on.READ MORE: New York State Legislature Votes To Curb Gov. Cuomo's Emergency Powers
Baymen were on the water as the East End scallop season opened, pulling up one measly bushel from Shinnecock Bay rather than the usual 10. Supply has dwindled while demand has grown.
“At the end of the summer, you always look forward to the scallops, because they are something that are delicious,” said Sean Dunne of North Sea.
But the delectable bay scallops will not be on too many restaurant menus this year.
Prices are expected to skyrocket to $38 per pound or more — 30 percent higher than last year.
The vulnerable season is short.
“Once Labor Day comes, it quiets down,” said Diane David of Cor-J Seafood, “so we kind of need a boost from the scallops. Everybody comes in looking for them.”READ MORE: Brooklyn Mom Wants NYC Apartments Inspected Annually After Parts Of Ceiling Crash Down On 12-Year-Old Son
Commercial fishermen with dredger nets said they cannot even break even, and now recreational harvesters are giving up.
“I dive for my scallops, so we were in the water for an hour. I got 30 scallops,” said recreational scalloper Chris Paparo.
Most years, Paparo pulls in an entire bushel – four pounds of scallop meat – in less than 30 minutes.
Experts at the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences have been studying the effects of record high summer heat, toxic tides, nitrogen, and algae blooms on sensitive shellfish.
“People did surveys — in beginning of summer, there were plenty of scallops out there, but between the very hot summer and the rust tide, and they came back in early fall and there was nothing but shell,” said Stony Brook professor Christopher Gobler.
But the future is not necessarily bleak. Baymen and scientists have spotted a considerable amount of juvenile scallops — too tiny to be legal this year. But with an environmental rebound, they could be ready for next fall.MORE NEWS: Immersive Public Art Installation Now On Display At Domino Park
Dietitians say scallops are popular due to the fact that they are low in calories and fat, and easy to cook and eat.