Sarasota Bay Watch Happenings by Larry Stults

We’ve been on the water! Sarasota Bay Watch has been out on the water a lot recently. Again this year we’ve partnered with Mote Marine Laboratory to put adult scallops in cages in the bay, measure growth rates, clean barnacles, oysters and algae off the scallops and swap out clean cages when the old ones get covered by marine growth. So every 2 to 3 weeks SBW volunteers jump in their boats, pick up scientists and interns at the Mote dock, and head out into the bay to manage and maintain close to 900 scallops! Between old age (they only live 1 year or so, and red tide spikes in the bay) the scallops have now died. We believe that they did their job and spawned while in the cages, and we are eagerly looking forward to next summer to do it again.

In addition, Sarasota Bay Watch volunteers in the past couple of weeks have released about 21,000,000 scallop larvae into Sarasota Bay. We are sending a great big THANK YOU to Curt Hemmel and his talented staff at Bay Shellfish Company for managing a series of successful scallop spawns to create all of these scallop babies. We anticipate additional spawns before the 2016 restoration season is over.

We are very excited by the tremendous success of our 6th Annual Scallopalooza fundraiser. This year we changed up the name a bit to “Scallopalooza, It’s Clamtastic!” to celebrate the launch of our expansion into southern hard shell clam restoration. START was an early, and key, supporter of this effort and donated $3,000 as a match challenge for Scallopalooza goers. Happily they rose to the occasion, and more! By the end of the evening we had raised over $30,000 to help protect and restore Sarasota Bay waters. These funds not only will allow us to continue our important community volunteer work on scallop restoration, but gives us the seed money needed to start clam restoration as well. Thanks to START for helping to get this ball rolling!

Riverview High School senior, and Sarasota Bay Watch student board member, Delainey Dietz gave the Scallopalooza keynote speech. She recounted Sarasota Bay Watch’s growth since 2007 and spoke passionately about all of the marine conservation and youth leadership opportunities she and other students have experienced with SBW. Delainey has been a spirited volunteer and tremendous student board member, and it is fitting that her comments highlight the contributions she has made to SBW, and experiences she has gained while doing so.

Mark you calendars and register now for the 8th Annual Fishing Line cleanup of seabird rookeries, on November 5th – hosted by the Sarasota Sailing Squadron. Through this important event community volunteers help remove fishing line and tackle to reduce entanglement risks to the seabirds that roost and nest in the rookeries. Go to sarasotabaywatch.org for more info and registration.

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