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Sarasota Bay Watch events promote scallop restoration

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  • | 4:00 a.m. July 23, 2014
Rusty Chinnis helped at last year’s Scallop Search.
Rusty Chinnis helped at last year’s Scallop Search.
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Sarasota Bay Watch, a nonprofit organization that aims to preserve and restore Sarasota Bay’s ecosystem through education and active participation, will host an evening of food and fun to raise awareness and support for local scallop restoration at the fourth annual Scallopalooza Aug. 9, at Sarasota Yacht Club.

Two weeks later, the seventh annual Sarasota Bay Watch Scallop Search takes place Aug. 23, beginning at Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub. Volunteers snorkel through grassflats to search for and count scallops, which helps scientist monitor population trends.

The Scallop Search is a no-harvest event, but Mar Vista provides a complimentary lunch for volunteers afterward.

These community events highlight the need for scallops and their beneficial nature to Sarasota Bay.

Until the 1960s, bay scallops served as a vital link in the marine food chain. Not only does their filter feeding improve water clarity, but their presence also increases the natural diversity of fish in our local waters. But when water quality declined, so did the scallop population.

Today, with cleaner waters and thriving seagrass beds, Sarasota Bay can again be host to this type of marine life. A flourishing scallop population is also good news for the community.

“The community benefits not only from a healthier bay but also from a shared sense of purpose and accomplishment around a good cause,” said Larry Stults, president of Sarasota Bay Watch.

This year’s Scallopalooza will also feature local historian John McCarthy, who will share his perspective on the role that scallops have played in our community, our history and our economy.

For the past three years, Sarasota Bay Watch has taken a leading role in protecting inhabitants of our waters by releasing 54 million scallop larvae and 100,000 juvenile scallops into the bay. Its 10-year scallop restoration project received the 2013 Environmental Protection Agency’s Gulf Guardian Award.

For more information, call Ronda Ryan at 232-2363.

If you go

When: 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9
Where: Sarasota Yacht Club, 110 John Ringling Blvd.
Cost: $85 per person includes dinner, entertainment and auction; tables also available.
Dress: Coastal casual

Scallop Search
When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 23
Where: Begins at Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub, 760 Broadway
Cost: Free
What to bring: A mask, snorkel, sunscreen, water and a weight belt and dive flag if you have them.



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