Maybe it was something in the water.
At last year’s Sarasota Bay Watch Scallop Search, the water was murkier than it was the year before, which made scallops difficult to spot. Or, maybe the population was experiencing a natural fluctuation as the result of water-quality fluctuations or predation. But, whatever the reason, at last year’s scallop search, volunteers counted just 139 — just more than 15% of the nearly 900 scallops that volunteers counted in 2008.
Sarasota Bay Watch President John Ryan said that 2008 might have been somewhat of an anomaly. And last year’s numbers actually showed that the state of Sarasota Bay’s scallop population is still strong.
“There’s a lot of natural variability,” Ryan said. “About 50 years ago, the scallop population here went into a state of decline, and it has stayed that way for a long time.”
At this year’s scallop search, scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 21, volunteers will meet at a new location, Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub, before taking off on their boats to count scallops in the bay to provide data that helps researchers identify trends in the population. The event had previously been held near Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota County, but Ryan said that this year’s Manatee County location has more seagrass, which is the habitat of scallops.
Volunteers who own boats or kayaks are needed, along with other participants who will dive for scallops or help with other activities.
Registration is limited to 150 participants. Participants will be treated to lunch at Mar Vista after the event. But just don’t plan on taking any of those scallops you count home for dinner: Harvesting scallops in areas south of the Suwanee River has been illegal since 1994.
For information, go to sarasotabaywatch.org.
If you go
Third Annual Sarasota Bay Watch Scallop Search
When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21; onsite registration begins at 8 a.m.
Where: Meet at the docks of Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub, 760 Broadway
Contact Robin Hartill at email@example.com.