The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 32 - May 23, 2012

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Sister Keys clean up largest to date

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Rusty Chinnis | submitted
Some of the many volunteers who came to Longboat
Key Saturday for the annual Sister Keys Cleanup
display the SBW sign.

Sarasota Bay Watch (SBW) held its annual Sister Keys Clean Up Saturday May 12, at the Mar Vista Dockside restaurant in the Longboat Key Village. One hundred and ten volunteers showed up to lend a hand, get a free one year membership to Sarasota Bay Watch and a lunch on the bay courtesy of Ed Chiles and the Chiles Group.

It was a perfect day with low humidity, a brisk wind to keep the bugs at bay and sunny skies. At the end of the day a large dump truck was filled with debris ranging from tires to toilet seats. The town of Longboat Key Public Works Department, led by James Linkogle, helped transport people, provided trash bags and hauled the trash away.

Longboat Key Marine Office Shawn Nagell slowed boat traffic in the Intrcoastal Waterway to protect transporting volunteers. Captain Tracy Dell, of the Kathleen D Sailing Charters, provided a boat to ferry participants back and forth from the Mar Vista.

The success of events like the clean-up shows that people are eager to get involved with the health of the bay. Give them an opportunity to help and they will gain a new appreciation of the resource. This kind of community involvement was the reason that Sarasota Bay Watch was formed in 2008. Its mission continues to be the protection and restoration of Sarasota Bay's ecosystem through community education and citizen participation.

And SBW has made great advances despite the worst economy since the Great Depression. We started out with projects like the Sister Keys Clean Up because it gave us a platform to network with partners like the Chiles Group, Mote Marine Laboratory, Save Our Seabirds, the Longboat Key Garden Club, the Sarasota Yacht Club, the Sarasota Sailing Squadron, Audubon and the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program.

Our next event is slated for June 9. The Second Annual Scallopalooza is one of our most exciting and rewarding projects to date. In 2011 we partnered with the Sarasota Yacht Club to raise funds for a multi-year scallop restoration effort in the bay.

Our first year was a sellout as 200 citizens turned out to show their support. The organization raised over $14,000.00 which allowed us to release four million baby scallops in the bay. Recently Mote Marine's Sarasota Bay Explorer reported finding baby scallops in the area we seeded. While the evidence is anecdotal, there its a good chance that these may be a result of the release.

With the success of the second event, we will be poised to conduct one of the most complete multi-year efforts ever undertaken. The idea that our children and future generations might have a chance to scallop in Sarasota Bay is compelling.

If you wish to join us for the Second Annual Scallopalooza and take part in this historical undertaking go to Sarasota Bay Watch's website at for more information.

There are many other ways to get involved and some exciting opportunities to experience the bay first hand. On Aug. 11, we'll be having our fifth annual Scallop Search, an event that began in 2008 and has been sponsored by our partners including the Anna Maria Island Sun.

The Scallop Search gives you an opportunity to get in the water and help scientists assess scallop numbers from Anna Maria Sound to Sarasota. While the numbers found have fluctuated wildly (900 to 15) it demonstrates the resilience of the species and the possibility of their return with a little help.

In October, we will be conducting an annual fishing line clean up on bird rookeries throughout Sarasota Bay. Fishing line accounts for the often gruesome death of many of our most beautiful seabirds and a day spent removing this deadly debris is extremely rewarding.

There are lots of projects on the horizon and the board of Sarasota Bay Watch is extremely excited about the possibilities, made possible by concerned citizens like you. We look forward to seeing you at one our events. We think you'll agree – "A healthy bay is everybody's business."

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper