Tampa Bay Watch's 5th Annual Great Bay Scallop Search
Tampa Bay area residents will take to the waters Saturday, August 18, ,for Tampa Bay Watch's 2007 Great Bay Scallop Search. The environmentally and ecologically focused event will draw more than 200 volunteers into Tampa and Boca Ciega bays to seek out bay scallops, nature's water quality purifiers.
On Saturday, August 18, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., volunteers will snorkel designated areas in search of live scallops hidden among the seagrass beds. This search monitors and documents the health and status of the bay scallop, an elusive marine animal that is sensitive to water quality. The scallop count determined by the volunteers will allow scientists to gauge the effectiveness of restocking efforts that are currently underway.
"Tampa Bay's scallop population collapsed in the 1960s due to poor water quality," Tampa Bay Watch Director Peter Clark said. "Improvements over the last 30 years have made it possible for these pollution-sensitive mollusks to make a tentative comeback in many areas of the bay."
Since the first event in 1993, searches have yielded anywhere from 79 scallops in 1997 to zero scallops in 2001. During the 2006 search, 17.5 live scallops were discovered. The reason for the .5 number was that a half of a scallop shell was found showing a recently preyed upon or deceased scallop. The low number in 2006 was believed to have been caused by the severe Red Tide in 2005.
One of Tampa Bay Watch's biggest and most anticipated events, the Great Bay Scallop Search is an opportunity for volunteers in more than 40 boats and kayaks to participate in a resource-monitoring program, while learning more about the Bay's ecology.
Tampa Bay Watch and the Tampa Bay Estuary Program are partnering for the fourteenth year. Each volunteer will receive a free t-shirt.
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