An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: Sarasota County, USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

Scallops Tell a Tale of a Troubled Bay

The population of scallops in the Sarasota Bay has sunk dramatically since the Sarasota Bay Watch group organized its first scallop search two years ago.

About 150 volunteers scoured the bay waters from New Pass in Sarasota to the northern tip of Anna Maria Island Saturday morning and found only 15 bay scallops.

In the search's debut year, the volunteers found more than 900 scallops on the bay floor. The group found 180 bay scallops last year, which was still considered a strong presence.

Scallops are highly sensitive mollusks and their presence, or lack thereof, is a reliable barometer for water quality.

The bay scallop population often fluctuates and is affected by many factors, such as storm-water runoff, red tide or algal blooms and especially low salinity caused by heavy rainfall or rivers flushing into the bay, said Sarah Stephenson, a scientist with the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg.