Sarasota Bay Watch Happenings by Larry Stults

Sarasota Bay Watch has been extremely busy over the past weeks. We continue to grow our partnership with Venice’s Suncoast Reef Rovers via a series of diver-based underwater cleanups of Sharky’s Pier, the Venice Jetties, and most recently the Venice Moorings. Mayor John Holic even came out to cook food for divers and topside volunteers! Sarasota Bay Watch youth and adult volunteers collect the marine debris brought to the surface by the divers and later weigh and catalog it. This data is shared with NOAA as part of their regional marine debris program. Underwater cleanups are a tremendous addition to SBW’s on-the-water activities, and they help our community restore and preserve our waterways in a new and important way.

More exciting news is that the scallop adult brood stock we recently collected from Egmont Key have started spawning. In the last 2 weeks Sarasota Bay Watch volunteers have released 16,000,000 scallop larvae into the bay! And we anticipate more to come as they continue to spawn in the months ahead.

We are also thrilled with last weekend’s 6th annual fundraiser at the Sarasota Yacht Club. There was a fantastic crowd of 170 enthusiastic supporters, good food, great presentations and wonderful auction items. ABC 7’s Bob Harrigan was a fabulous emcee for the evening, and Riverview High School senior Delainey Dietz gave a great keynote presentation on “Evolution” – touching on SBW growth and marine conservation youth leadership development through SBW programs. When it was all said and done we raised about $26,000!!!

Not only will scallop restoration continue, but these funds will help Sarasota Bay Watch build on its restoration experience and acquired expertise to add clam restoration to our work slate. This is an exciting and important expansion – so much so that we renamed or fundraiser “SCALLOPALOOZA, It’s Clamtastic!” to celebrate our new direction. In fact, START was our first clam restoration supporter with $3000 in seed money, which was used as a challenge fund; and our Scallopalooza supporters rose to the challenge! Kudos to START for leading the way.

There are exciting times ahead – see you on the water!

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