CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) is reminding residents that shellfish harvesting season in South Carolina ends May 31.

State and public shellfish grounds will close 30 minutes after official sunset.

Harvesting oysters, mussels, clams, and other bivalves in the summer months can be dangerous, as bacterial levels increase when the water temperature exceeds 80 degrees. The season will reopen to the public in the fall once temperatures begin to drop, likely around October 1.

Commercial harvesters, “who can meet rigorous handling requirements,” will still be allowed to harvest during the summer months.

Residents are still encouraged to recycle shells through the South Carolina Oyster Recycling and Enhancement (SCORE) program. Shells can be dropped off at any of these sites, and are returned to the shorelines where they “provide an ideal base for juvenile oysters to attach and grow, thereby replenishing harvested beds.”