Diver scallops are scallops plucked by hand from the water by scuba divers, as opposed to those that are dredged en masse by a net that scrapes the ocean or river bottom.
Because diver scallops are handpicked, their use helps to preserve fragile water ecosystems that may be disturbed by dredging. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, about 27 million metric tons of unwanted sea creatures are uprooted every year by trawling nets, leaving many species at a higher risk for endangerment.
Many chefs prefer the flavor and texture of diver scallops, which are said to be sweeter and less gritty than their dredged counterparts. Additionally, because these scallops are not dragged along the seabed, which sometimes damages scallops, they are firmer and fresher than mass-harvested varieties.
Ordinarily, fishermen hold scallops in their boat while they sort them. However, diver scallops do not require sorting, meaning that they're fresher when packed. Additionally, divers usually select only the highest-quality scallops --- mature specimens bedded in moving currents.
Because it requires more manpower to handpick scallops, they can cost much more than the dredged variety.
Divers scallops can only be fished and are usually only available from December to April.
- Photo Credit chinese scallop stew image by green308 from Fotolia.com
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