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Longboat Key Friday, Aug. 16, 2019 1 month ago

Scallop search dives in again

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After last year's canceled event, the Sarasota Bay Watch looks forward to the 2019 rendition.
by: Nat Kaemmerer Staff Writer

You love the bay. You drive by it every day, appreciating its sparkling waters, a paradise so close. 

But when was the last time you asked Sarasota Bay how it is today? 

Your chance to do so is coming up on Saturday, Aug. 24 with the Sarasota Bay Watch’s 12th annual Scallop Search, launching from Sarasota Sailing Squadron on Ken Thompson Parkway.

This is the 12th year, but the 11th iteration of the event. Last year’s event was canceled due to red tide, so the bay hasn’t been asked, “How are you today?” in a while. 

Scallops only live about a year and are very susceptible to red tide, said organizer Ronda Ryan, so the chance to check up on them was lost when red tide made it impossible to get in the water. Late summer and early fall is usually the best time for scallop searches, because they’re big enough to see by this time. 

“You know with last year’s series of red tides, the question this year is mostly, “How’s the bay today?” said organizer Ronda Ryan. “After that series of events we’re curious what’s coming back.”

Searchers will be given a transect of the bay and a map and let loose to see what’s happening underwater. Of course, the emphasis is on clams and scallops, so the main goal is to keep a count of how many you see while down there. However, the Bay Watch encourages searchers to check out what else is down there, like animals and sea grasses. Just any general comments about the area they’re assigned to, Ryan said, not only because it helps the Bay Watch know how the bay is doing, but it is also important for people to know what’s happening. 

“We want to see what animals are coming back now,” Ryan said. “It’s a good time for the community to get in the water and see what’s down there. We’re in the midst of a huge clam restoration.”

The event is free — you just need a boat and snorkel gear, and you’ll even get lunch afterwards. There are only 50 spots, but a lot are still open. Those interested can go to https://sarasotabaywatch.org to register. The event starts at 8:30 a.m. on August 24, when participants will be given a section of the bay and instructions on what to do. Ryan hopes they will be in the water by 9 a.m. 

“We’re glad to be getting back out there and getting some more eyes on the bay,” said organizer Ronda Ryan. 

In the past, the Scallop Search has triggered the anticipation for the Scallopolooza, the Sarasota Bay Watch’s fundraiser event. But this year, the organization is making changes to the event, and it will be held in February. Expect a “Save the Date” soon. 

“We’re looking at making some big changes so it can grow with us and our efforts,” said Ryan.

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