Over the last 13 months Sarasota Bay Watch has introduced into the bay over 24 million scallop larvae in 6 releases (one in December of 2011, four in November/December of 2012 and one in January of 2013). Releases have been across all of Sarasota Bay, from Big Pass to Longboat Key Pass. While the project is off to a great start, this is only the first year of a long term effort that will require ongoing community and scientific support in order to succeed.
Sarasota Bay Watch will host its 6th Annual Great Scallop Search this August, where community volunteers come out to help search for and count scallops in Sarasota Bay’s sea grass beds. They hope over the coming years that scallops will be able to establish stable reproducing populations and reclaim their important role in the habitat and ecology of the bay.
Sarasota Yacht Club, local businesses and individuals have contributed time, goods and over $38,000 to this community-led scallop restoration effort. Sarasota Bay Watch, Mote Marine Laboratory, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, START, Bay Shellfish Company and Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute have worked collaboratively to accomplish what is believed to be the largest scallop release in Florida’s history, and to conduct scientific research to learn more about the scallop restoration process. This union of community support coupled with state and scientific organization participation may become a model for future shellfish restoration efforts in Florida and across the country.