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Vol. 14 No. 40 - July 30, 2014

reel time

Scallopalooza celebrates fourth year

Reel time

rusty chinnis | sun

SBW, working with other agencies, has released
54 million larvae, including several thousand juvenile
scallops, into the bay in an effort to rebuild stable
breeding populations of scallops.

It’s Scallopalooza time again and you are invited to come to Sarasota Bay Watch’s yearly fund-raiser held at the beautiful Sarasota Yacht Club. Monies raised from this event have paid for the introduction of millions of scallop larvae into Sarasota Bay from Bradenton to Sarasota with the hope of repopulating our bay waters with this once abundant species.

The Scallopalooza event has enjoyed the continued support of the community, proof that the businesses and inhabitants of Manatee and Sarasota Counties care about and are willing to tackle this long term restoration project.

Sarasota Bay Watch (SBW) was initially formed with the mission of protecting and restoring Sarasota Bay's ecosystem through community education and citizen participation. The spirit of the mission is reflected in the organizations slogan “A Healthy Bay Is Everybody’s Business.”

Early in the formation of the organization, restoring scallops became a major focus of SBW. Until the 1960s scallops were plentiful in Sarasota Bay, a key part of our marine environment that helped cleans our waters and served as an important link in the marine food chain. Problems began when development brought canal dredging, primitive septic systems and habitat loss to the bay.

Poor water quality combined with loss of habitat caused scallop populations to crash. Fortunately, scallops are determined survivors and continue to hold on in Sarasota Bay. SBW hopes its efforts will kick start scallop populations since water quality and habitat have improved over the last decade.

Scallops are prolific filter feeders, constantly purifying bay waters of silt, algae and other pollutants. Scallops are also an important member of the marine food chain supporting crabs, fish, rays and many other members of the bay community. Scallops help make our waters clearer and cleaner and supply nutrition to the local human population as well.

Scallops are considered the marine equivalent of canaries in a coal mine and are among the first marine organisms to suffer when water quality declines. Even though water quality has improved and our sea grass beds are returning, scallops have not returned in numbers to the bay. Over the last two years SBW, working with Mote Marine Laboratory, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Bay Shellfish Company and the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program under permits from the state of Florida, has released 54 million larvae, including several thousand juvenile scallop, into the bay in an effort to rebuild stable breeding populations of scallops.

The annual Scallopalooza fundraiser is critical to SBW’s scallop restoration project because it funds the production of the scallop spat (larvae). The SBW scallop restoration program has come to the attention of many other organizations that are now also helping to fund their efforts. They include the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, NAUI, START, The Sarasota Community Foundation and many others. In total the community has contributed over $50,000 toward scallop research. In 2013 SBW received a Gulf Guardian Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their efforts.

This year’s Scallopalooza will feature local historian John McCarthy, who will share his perspective on the role that scallops have played in our history, our economy, our art and our community. President Larry Stults will review the accomplishments of the organization and outline future projects and programs. Come and join SBW on Saturday, Aug. 9, for an evening of camaraderie, great food, music and libations at one of Sarasota’s most spectacular venues. The event kicks off with 6 p.m. cocktails (cash bar), followed by a silent and live auction. Dinner will be served at 7 p.m.

The Sarasota Yacht Club is located at 1100 John Ringling Boulevard, Sarasota. Tickets are $85 per person, Tables are $650 for eight people or $750 for 10. Tickets can be purchased online at www.sarasotabaywatch.org/event-sign-up/scallopalooza/. For additional information, contact Ronda Ryan at 941-232-2363.


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