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On Nantucket, a rescue for stranded scallops

Volunteers cleaning up scallops at low tide at Monomoy on Nantucket Harbor.

Peter Brace/Nantucket Harbor and Shellfish Advisory Board

Volunteers cleaning up scallops at low tide at Monomoy on Nantucket Harbor.

After last week’s nor’easter blew tens of thousands of scallops onto Nantucket’s shores, volunteers spent the weekend hauling the mollusks into deeper water. An unlucky few ended up in bubbling pots as a reward for volunteers’ hard work.

Scallops often wash up on the beaches or get trapped in shallow water after storms, but sustained winds forced more scallops onto the sand than usual, said Peter Brace, chairman of the Nantucket Harbor and Shellfish Advisory Board.

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“Anytime it blows northwest, north, northeast, east, we can get scallop strandings,” Brace said. “But unlike Hurricane Sandy, where we had basically one day of strong winds, it was Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday that the wind blew.”

The mollusks washed ashore along the Polpis Road shoreline, from Wauwinet Beach to Monomoy Beach, and in front of the University of Massachusetts Field Station, he said.

Nantucket’s harbor master distributed fliers asking for volunteers to help in a coordinated effort to rescue the mollusks ­after the nor’easter, Brace said.

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More than 100 people, including scallopers, showed up to carry the shellfish to safety, he said.

Rescuers raked up the stranded scallops and dumped them into buckets to carry them back to the water. They also used floating containers to carry the mollusks out of shallow water into deeper water.

“You can walk as out as far as your waders will let you and distribute them out in at least 3-feet-deep water,” said Peter Boyce, who is also a member of the shellfish advisory board.

Scallopers also brought their boats close to shore, loaded up with scallops, and chucked them near the shoals of the harbor, which are well-protected.

Joining the rescue had an additional perk: People with valid recreational scallop permits or a commercial scalloping permit could take home one bushel of adult scallops, as they can every day Wednesday through Sunday, Brace said.

Brace said he hopes to make future scallop rescues more organized and less about the free shellfish. There are talks of a team that would walk the beaches after a big storm and report strandings.

Melissa Werthmann can be reached at
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