Sarasota Bay’s scallop population began dropping nearly a half-century ago due to a variety of factors, including declining water quality, red tide, destruction of seagrass and overharvesting.
Two years ago, Sarasota Bay Watch launched a 10-year plan to restore Sarasota Bay’s scallop population, which has fallen dramatically in recent decades. The organization has since distributed 24 million scallop larvae into the bay.
You can help support these efforts by participating in two events planned for this month.
The first event is Scallapalooza, scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 3, at Sarasota Yacht Club. The event includes a cash bar, dinner and entertainment. Tickets are $85; a limited number of tables for 10 are available for $750.
The second event is the sixth annual 2013 Sarasota Bay Watch Scallop Search Saturday, Aug. 17. Be sure to register soon, because space is limited, and the event reaches capacity every year.
The scallop search is a free activity that allows volunteers to become citizen scientists by helping to monitor scallop counts in the bay.
Volunteers search for scallops by snorkeling through grassflats, usually in 6 feet of water or less. Bring a mask, snorkel, sunscreen, water and a weight belt and dive flag, if you have them. Leave fins at home, because they stir up the sand and make it difficult to see in the water.
The scallop search is a no-harvest event, but Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub will provide a complimentary lunch for volunteers after the search.
Sarasota Bay Watch founder Rusty Chinnis explains the importance of the events in the context of the key role the bay serves locally.
“The bay is so important to the whole region, not only for recreation, but also because it is so important to the economy,” he said. “It’s the water and the bay that attracts people to the area.”
If you go
When: Cocktails begin at 6 p.m.; dinner begins at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3
Where: Sarasota Yacht Club, 1100 John Ringling Blvd.
Cost: $85; limited number of tables of 10 available for $750
Sarasota Bay Watch Scallop Search
When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17
Where: Meet at Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub, 760 Broadway
To register for both events, visit sarasotabaywatch.org.