The Most Challenging of all Free Diving Endeavors



A display of three rock scallops. The one on the right is a 9" scallop. The art mount was created by Ed Moore of Wildlife Workshop & Gallery located in Ft. Bragg, CA...Scallops were taken freediving by Eric Anderson.

 (click on below link to see how to clean scallops keeping shell in one piece)



(below pictures display  what a rock scallop looks like inside and outside) photos provided by D. Dinucci 



This beautiful 9 1/2" rock scallop was taken by Doug Coale in Santa Barbara 6/09. What a monster....


ROCK SCALLOP (Hinnites multirugosus Gale 1928) 



Description: The two valves thick and heavy, the lower often taking the shape of the rock to which it is attached.  Right or attached valve retains near the umbo the shape and pattern of the young, free-swimming stage.  Upper, left valve with many radiating ribs, having numerous short fluted spines.  Upper valve often riddled with holes of boring sponges, worms and bivalves.  Shape usually spherical.  Inside of shell a shiny pearly white with distinct purple color in hinge region.  Attains 10 inches in diameter though usually less than six.  Differs from all other California scallops by being attached as adult and by having purple hinge area on inside of shell.

Range:  Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia, to Abreojos Point, Baja California.

Habits:  During the early part of its life it resembles the ordinary scallop in shape and its ability to swim.  When slightly over an inch in diameter it becomes permanently attached to a suitable rock or other stationary object.  Usually found from below high tide line on the outer coast in somewhat sheltered palces into water over 100 feet deep. 

Use:  The single large adductor muscle or "scallpe" is all that is used of this species.  This muscle, sometimes two inches in diameter is sliced across the grain and fried.  Definitely on the finest scallps on the entire coast.

Other name: Purple-hinged scallop. 

Above picture of limit of rock scallops taken freediving in Northern California.


Click on below link to see a video of Mattison diving for rock scallops.
Freediving for Rock Scallops

by Eric Anderson

Free diving for rock scallops in northern California is probably the most challenging of all diving endeavors. This statement may sound obscure to many;  however,  many who have tried this sport know I'm speaking the truth. I have never tried scallop diving in southern California, but, I understand scalloping there is somewhat easier because of the following: better conditions, less treachous environment, and better visibility. Dr. Bruce Watkins' book, "A Diving Guide to Northern California", states that most scallops come off with one pry. I truly don't know if  Dr. Watkins has scalloped in northern California. In short, it ain't that easy to pry them off their perch. I have dived for scallops in the Puget Sound area and can tell you that the scallops there are much easier to remove from their habitat than they are here. Most northern California divers use SCUBA for the arduous chore of removing the bivlave from their environment.  The CF&G regulations state that one must use only an abalone iron or a dive knife to remove the rock scallop; howerver, I believe an underwater jack hammer would be much better.  I truly believe that a scallop is not adhesive but cohesive to the rock to which they are attached.  Examine your next scallop shell and you'll see what I mean.  I don't think a biologist would agree with me though.  If you have ever tried to remove a rock scallop holding your breath at any depth  you must know what Enzo or the little Frenchman experienced while attempting to outdo each other in setting the free dive depth record in the film "The Big Blue."  SCUBA divers sometimes just slip their knife between the two parts of the shell and clean the scallop leaving the bottom shell attached to the rock.  They drop the meat  (button) into a sack and continue on the hunt.  I prefer taking the complete shell.  If the CF&G ever put a size limit on the scallop, then you will have to take the shell for proof.  Just remember, if you want to take scallops free diving, two things are necessay; stamina and stamina.

Erik Owen displaying his 10 5/8" rock scallop.  This scallop shell is the largest one ever recorded. Besides the size, what makes this so unique is the quality of the shell.

   Eric Owens world record scallop in an art mount created by Greg Ballou.
                      Ed Ikemoto displaying 2 days catch of rock scallops.

Matt Mattison and Joe Fecteau displaying some nice scallops taken from Mendo waters  on 8/2/09...

Mark Zinser holding a 9" scallop taken in Mendo County 8/09...The picture to the right  is the result of the Zinser family scallop dive...Three divers, three bags, three limits...amazing feat. Congratulations Charles, Brian, Mark....

Julian Lee displaying two large limits of scallops taken 9/09...Kenner Cooper not pictured...These are big scallops!!!





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 answers to the abalone anatomy quiz....(1) G (2) I (3) F (4) H (5) E (6) J

                                                                          (7) A  (8) C (9) D (10) B





  Coastal Pictures



click on above link for more on abalone diving...