Sarasota Bay Watch Happenings by Larry Stults

“There’s a muddle in my puddle, and I’m going to do something about it!” This message, about the power of individual action and importance of water stewardship, is delivered to young readers in Sarasota Bay Watch’s new children’s story “My Puddle’s A Muddle.” Our newly developed book is a Dr. Seuss style rhyming story, with illustrations by a local pair of Ringling School of Art and Design graduates. Sarasota Bay Watch featured the story in a reading circle at Earth Day at Oscar Scherer State Park, and plans to do it again at the Sea Grass Festival at Ken Thompson Park and the Fall Family Festival at Bay Preserve hosted by Historic Spanish Point and the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast. We will also use the storybook in our visits to elementary school classroom with our live scallops and clam demonstration to help emphasize the importance of being caretakers of our environment. Thanks Sir Speedy for help with printing!

Sarasota Bay Watch is pleased to report that our first foray into clam restoration is progressing very well. In March we acquired 300,000 Southern Hard Clams from our hatchery partner Bay Shellfish Co., and forged a new partnership with local clam farmer Dr. Aaron Welch, who currently is growing out our clams to an intermediate size (“little neck” for you clam lovers). In about 2 weeks time they will be harvested from nursery bags on the bottom of the bay. They then will go to another new partner, clam farmer Carter Davis, who will place them under protective cover nets and nurture them for the next 12 to 14 months while they grow to almost full adult size (large “middle neck” to small “top neck”) – big enough, and with shells so thick, that they become virtually predator proof.

Early April saw Sarasota Bay Watch and Riverview High School once again – for the 7th year in a row – work together to remove trash and invasive plants from Skier’s Island, which is one of our many Intercostal Waterway spoil islands. Every year we make this neglected public land a little bit better. This year marks two firsts for the annual event. We welcomed students from Cardinal Mooney to join us – the more the merrier! And we planted 6 native trees (Sea Grapes) to begin the process of restoring the island to a more natural state. Kudos to ACE Hardware for donating tools and supplies and to Albritton’s Nursery for help with native plants.

May promises to be busy with more visits to elementary school rooms in partnership with Riverview High School STARS TO STARFISH students, who will help us engage and excite grade-schoolers about marine conservation.

Finally, SBW is thrilled to be able to further our efforts to connect kids and our community to nature with a $25,000 grant from the Disney Conservation Fund. Thanks DCF for helping us protect and restore Sarasota Bay!

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