Sarasota Bay Watch Happenings by Larry Stults

Sarasota Bay Watch thanks all the volunteers from Sarasota and Manatee Counties that showed up to make our 6th Annual Great Scallop Search the best ever! 165 searchers brought their boats, kayaks, snorkeling gear and dive equipment and dedicated their Saturday morning to search for scallops in the bay. We were thrilled that so many families participated because today’s young volunteers will be tomorrow’s leaders.

Scallops were abundant in Sarasota Bay until the end of the 1950’s when population growth, waterfront development projects and other environmental factors began to compromise water quality and conspired to collapse scallop populations. Today with water quality vastly improved and healthy sea grass beds expanding in the bay, it is time to give scallops a helping hand to reestablish stable breeding populations.

Red tide last winter and lots of storm water runoff into the bay from spring and summer rains impacted scallop abundance this year. Additionally, Jim Culter of Mote Marine Laboratories noted that “High tide thwarted efficient searches in some areas so the counts should be considered a minimum, possibly more would have been found during a low tide.” Despite these challenges volunteers found 11 live scallops and a number of sites with “fresh” scallop shells (many different marine animals eat scallops – which is one reason it’s important to bring them back). This compares with 91 live scallops found last year.

These results show that scallops are able to live and grow to adults in many regions of the bay despite the considerable challenges they face. SBW is working hard to give scallops a chance to make a comeback. This long-term project takes time, money and patience. Sarasota and Manatee communities have demonstrated their commitment to scallop restoration through generous donations of time, materials and donations. With your help we’ll introduce millions of scallop larvae (spat) into the bay this year and for years to come.

Check out Sarasota Bay Watch’s Facebook page for great pictures of the event.

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