On Saturday night, Feb. 11, Sarasota Bay Watch (SBW) will hold its 13th annual major fundraising event, “Scallopalooza: Welcome to The Clam Jam,” at the Sarasota Hyatt Regency Hotel. Last year’s event was a sellout with over 400 community supporters in attendance and, if history is any indication, this year will be too.
SBW’s Executive Director Ronda Ryan, who has been with Sarasota Bay Watch since 2007, continues to spearhead the group’s education and restoration efforts. Sarasota Bay Watch’s shellfish restoration efforts resulted in nearly 1 million clams being released in 2022 alone. Their work highlights the need for action to protect the local marine ecosystem. As a part of that “natural system,” clams filter algae that have been growing in excess and affecting water quality and clarity in the bay. Reduced water quality and clarity negatively affect seagrass growth, a necessary component for a healthy ecosystem. Seagrass beds provide essential habitat and food to all creatures in the bay, including humans.
Sarasota Bay Watch Board President Brandon Taaffe and members of the event committee, Brian Jung, Al Jeffery, John Ryan and Ernesto Lasso De La Vega, helped Ryan organize an event that highlights the importance of and support for local nonprofits stressing the significance of clean water.
The evening’s activities will include live music, an open bar and a large silent auction that includes artwork, event tickets, and merchandise of every description. After dinner, a live auction will feature packages including travel, fishing trips and much more.
One of the best parts of the event is the opportunity to mingle with some of the region’s most passionate environmental supporters and to share the common mission for protecting Sarasota Bay. De La Vega, who leads the clam restoration efforts, will be back to update participants on SBW’s projects, which include the first-ever clam lease in Sarasota Bay that is dedicated to restoration.
To get involved with the work SBW is doing to protect Sarasota Bay and support their mission, visit the group’s website. As their motto says, “A healthy bay is everybody’s business,” literally and figuratively!