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Vol. 14 No. 44 - August 27, 2014

reel time

Scallop search this weekend

Reel time

file photo

Participants at the Scallop Search will be served lunch
at the Mar Vista after the event.

The 7th Annual Scallop Search, Sarasota Bay Watch’s signature and longest standing event, is slated for Saturday, Aug. 23, at the Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub on Longboat Key. This free event engages the public in what has been called citizen science because it assists scientists with monitoring the scallops in Sarasota Bay. The search is a boating event, but Sarasota Bay Watch (SBW) will make an attempt to place non boaters on boats when possible.

To assess the populations of the bay, a grid is constructed that covers the bay, and volunteers snorkel the area looking for scallops to document their presence. The Scallop Search has been conducted since 2007, and was initiated with support provided by Tampa Bay Watch. During the annual monitoring event, volunteers snorkel along set transect lines to search for scallops in select areas within Sarasota Bay. The goal of the event is to monitor and document the health and status of bay scallop populations.

Some years volunteers find large numbers of scallops and other years they find very few. There are many factors that affect the health of scallops including hurricanes, red tide and significant rainfall, which affects salinity. Bay scallops, once plentiful throughout Sarasota Bay, disappeared in the early 1960s when bay waters were polluted from municipal wastes, dredging, and subsequent habitat loss. In the recent past, the water quality and seagrass beds have since improved to levels that may once again support bay scallops. This is one of the driving forces behind Sarasota Bay Watch’s scallop restoration efforts.

This event is a perfect family activity. Searching' requires swimming and snorkeling abilities. It is done over the grass flats usually in 6 feet of water or less. There will be a complimentary lunch for volunteers after the search hosted by the Chiles Group at the Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub, 760 Broadway St., Longboat Key. This is a no harvest event.

Participants will need to bring a mask and snorkel, sunscreen, water, and a weight belt. Fins are helpful and bring a dive flag if you have one. The only other requirements are good eyes and a great spirit! Registration is required, so go to www.sarasotabaywatch.org


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