- August 13, 2016
Between Tampa Bay Watch, Pine Island Sound Scallop Search and our very own Sarasota Bay Watch, the West Coast waters of Florida were covered — with scallop searchers. On Aug. 23, volunteers gathered to collect information about the survival of scallops in our waters.
Locally, Sarasota Bay Watch’s effort was part of its Scallop Restoration Program, which is going into the fourth year of the 10-year program. The level of support from the community broke records again for the organization — more than 135 volunteers woke up early on Saturday and headed to Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub.
Every year, registration for the search fills to capacity, and this year, registration soared to 135 people. In addition to individual volunteers, partnering organizations including Mote Marine Laboratory, Sarasota County, Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institution and Schaefer Consulting joined in the search.
It was a warm day, but energy was high as volunteers were eager to start the search, which they expected would find a higher count of scallops than in previous years. Sarasota Bay Watch member Ronda Ryan demonstrated how to properly search for scallops during the captains meeting. Then, the searchers grabbed their buckets and poles and headed out to sea to find some thriving scallops.
After searching for more than three hours in 70 locations in Sarasota Bay, the volunteers returned to Mar Vista to give their numbers, enjoy a complimentary lunch and, of course, share their findings with one another. In addition to scallops, volunteers saw a variety of fish, nurse sharks, stingrays, starfish, other bivalves, horseshoe crabs and horse conchs. The group counted 40 live scallops — a significant increase from last year’s count of 11 scallops.
“The support for our search is incredible,” Ryan said. “The fact that all of these people are willing to take a day that they have to spend snorkeling and searching for scallops with us, we are so grateful.”
BY THE NUMBERS
135 - Scallop search volunteers
40 - Scallops found
70 - Sites searched
95 - Degrees outside