February winds and weather can’t stop Sarasota Bay Watch volunteers from getting out on the water! This month a group of professional park rangers and landscape managers bring their expertise to bear on removing invasive and exotic plants from Sister Keys, the largest group of natural waterway islands in Sarasota Bay. About 5 years ago the Town of Longboat Key restored the islands, but invasive plants are starting to pop up. So now is the time to start invasive plant management to maintain the native environment.
Additionally, Sarasota Bay Watch is again partnering with Sarasota CREW kids this year to cleanup fishing line and debris from the Jim Neville Marine Preserve and the Midnight Pass area. This annual event helps save our sea birds from entanglement in fishing line, which rapidly leads to death. SBW continues to partner with the Ringling College of Art and Design and the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast to create an interactive display of a watershed to illustrate what kids and their families can do to be good stewards of our water. SBW volunteers are also reaching out to Sarasota County to help with their scallop cage program, which is an additional way to help restore scallops to Sarasota Bay and surrounding marine environments. During February SBW and Mote Marine Laboratory were out on the water taking scientific data and water samples in support of our Scallop Restoration Project. Finally, this month finds our hatchery partner, the Bay Shellfish Company, growing scallops to the juvenile stage for release into the bay in March.