Today saw extremely low tides in Bays Loch (the slightly misleading name for the large bay around the north east coast of Berneray). At 1:40pm, the sea was sufficiently out to enable people to have a stroll, for some considerable distance, on the sea bed.
The rolling back of the sea reveals scallops, strange creatures in clam shells. In a not-very-sensible lapse of evolution, scallops have a habit of spitting water out of their shells, thus giving away their position to anyone wandering past looking, literally, for a "free lunch". Hence, not long after the tide receeded, a collection of scallops were surprised to find themselves on my kitchen table.
In the space of 30 minutes, on the seabed (exact area subject to local knowledge: we're not having gangs of illegal immigrants and their gangmaster here stripping the place bare), 70 were collected. A bit of a surprise, as the day before I'd watched a resident experienced in these things wander up in the same area at a very low tide and haul back bag after bag. I thought he'd cleared out the area, but no, there were loads still left. Many other areas around Berneray turned out to be scallop-less (so if you don't have local knowledge, then forget it).
After a quick scrub to get the worst of the sand, seaweed and other gunk off them, the 70 were laid out on the kitchen table. Here, they angrily snapped for a while, like some kind of shellfish version of the frog chorus. Pick any up the wrong way, and you're liable to get a painfully squashed end-of-finger.
When you look at them close up, they are rather unpleasant creatures, especially when you see what's in the shell. Thankfully, they taste (in my opinion) a lot better than they look, being rather yummy wrapped in bacon. Thanks also due to the wonders of the InterWeb, there are a myriad of recipes involving Scallops. The ever-brilliant Videojug website shows you how to make scallops with garlic and lemon.
No, that wasn't a fried egg ... it was inside the scallop. And here's another close-up:
So there you go. The scallop. It lives on the sea bed. It makes a very nice starter. More pictures of today's haul of scallops are in my Flickr space.
Tomorrow, those tidal pictures...