STEINHATCHEE - Tropical Storm Debby has hindered scallop hunters' ability to see the shellfish.
The storm dumped record rainfall on North Florida right before the start of the scallop season. As a result, the tannin-stained water of the region's rivers and creeks has been pushed far into the Gulf and has reduced visibility for the time being.
The Gainesville Sun reports (http://bit.ly/KWhlzU) that the influx of fresh water also reduces salinity, which can stress and potentially kill scallops and other saltwater species. Tests done Tuesday by Taylor County's marine agent found that salinity was low near the mouths of waterways draining into the Gulf but at levels healthy for scallops at other locations.
For local business owners, scallop season is one of the most economically important times of the year.