Sarasota Bay Watch Happenings by Larry Stults

SCALLOPALOOZA time! Sarasota Bay Watch’s 5th Annual Scallopalooza fundraiser to support scallop restoration in Sarasota Bay will be October 3rd, 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm, and will be hosted again by our friends at the Sarasota Yacht Club. Sign up today or make a donation visit www.sarasotabaywatch.org.

Sarasota Bay Watch is pleased to announce it has received another generous donation from the Johnson Singer Foundation, and another grant from the Disney Conservation Fund. It is tremendous gifts like these that ensures our community-driving restoration efforts will continue to move forward.

Recently Sarasota Bay Watch collaborated with 100 Sarasota High School marine biology students to build scallop cages. The students learned about species restoration and got to see and hold live scallops, as well as to participate in a hands-on activity to create cages. It is an important and meaningful contribution to the restoration program that could feel good about. This experience touched them in ways no textbook could. Next stop in or student outreach and engagement program – Riverview High School’s Marine Biology Club.

Our ongoing scallop restoration program has caught the attention of Sarasota County local government. In early September Sarasota County hosted a scallop cage building workshop for Sarasota Bay Watch volunteers, providing both the location and materials. Having local government as a supporter is an important addition to our coalition of restoration partners.

These newly built cages soon will be deployed across the bay with adult scallops, who are now in the process of maturing and getting ready to spawn. The cages (we like to call them Scallop Sanctuaries) will protect the scallops from predation while they mature, and keep them close together to help promote successful natural spawns.

Our recent 8th Annual Scallop Search engaged 140 community volunteers and 32 vessels – a fabulous turnout! Volunteers found about 250 live and recent deceased adult scallops, which indicates that some of the scallops we released last year survived to adulthood. The apparent synchronous recent death, coupled with a drop in the bay’s water temperature, suggests that they may have been triggered to spawn and then died, having completed their one year life cycle. Time and additional research help us answer those questions, but it is encouraging.

Looking at an even broader picture, Sarasota Bay Watch’s program is one of a number of regional efforts; it is the largest such program in Florida. Representatives from those various efforts are convening a Scallop Working Group Meeting to share information, setbacks, successes, and best practices.

These are exciting times!

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