A healthy bay is everybody’s business
Boaters line the shore for lunch at the Mar Vista
during the 2012 Scallop Search.
In 2012 Sarasota Bay Watch (SBW) expanded its presence in the bay area with a continuation of its popular events, crafted to get people involved in the bay and to help improve the local coastal environment.
The signature annual Great Scallop Search celebrated its fifth season with over 140 volunteers combing the waters from Manatee to Sarasota County. In addition the group conducted the Fourth Annual Sister Keys cleanup with 120 volunteers. Sponsored by the Mar Vista Restaurant participants were treated to a shore lunch at the popular north Longboat Key restaurant.
These events were followed by the Third Annual Monofilament Cleanup with Audubon and Save Our Seabirds in which 75 volunteers collected over nine football fields’ worth of potentially deadly monofilament line from critical bird rookery areas.
In an initiative to involve students, the Second Annual Skier’s Island cleanup was conducted with the Riverview High School National Honor Society Club. This year SBW will be adding a Jim Neville Marine Preserve cleanup with students from the Pine View School in Sarasota.
One of SBW’s most important partners, the Sarasota Yacht Club, again hosted the Second Annual Scallopalooza scallop restoration fundraiser in which $20,000 was raised. The combined total of over $34,000 has made it possible for SBW to release over 24 million baby scallops (spat) into the waters of Sarasota Bay. The year ended with the exciting news that the organization was opening an office at the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast Bay Preserve campus with START (Solutions to Avoid Red Tide).
Over the years, scallop restoration has been the target of SBW’s most focused efforts. The 24 million scallop larvae released in the bay in six batches was accomplished through a multi-prong approach, which included the community, local businesses, the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, Mote Marine Laboratory, the state of Florida, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute and Bay Shellfish Company. In November, Anna Island’s Ed Chiles, of The Chiles Group, teamed up with Ted LaRoche, of the LaRoche Family Foundation, and Micheal Coleman, of Pine Avenue Restoration , to provide the funding for the release of a million scallops (spat) into Sarasota Bay.
The Anna Maria Island Sun has supported Sarasota Bay Watch from its first year as a generous T-shirt sponsor for the scallop search and this year upped its donation to sponsor all of the organization’s 2013 events. According to SBW President Dr. Larry Stults, “These are great first steps on the road to restoring stable breeding scallop populations in Sarasota Bay. We couldn’t have accomplished this without the generous support of volunteers and local businesses.”
Events and initiatives cost money and SBW recently released a 2013 needs list for citizens and businesses wanting to support its efforts.
Student-led clean ups: $500 (three this year)
Monofilament cleanup of sea bird rookeries: $1,000
Sister Keys cleanup: $2000
Great Sarasota Scallop Search: $2,500
Scallop restoration: $10,000 per batch of scallop larvae
SBW does not receive any federal, state, or local government funding. What it does is entirely funded by the community and the people who care about water quality, habitat creation, waterway restoration and preservation of our marine treasures. Every year it relies on individual donors, businesses and local organizations for support.
SBW is thankful to all of its passionate followers, and could use your support. In the final analysis its motto, “A Healthy Bay is Everybody’s Business,” speaks to the fact that what it does supports everyone in the community. To see how you can help its efforts go the SBW website at www.sarasotabaywatch.org.