On August 4th, one hundred and thirty-seven citizen scientists participated in the 4th Annual Great Bay Scallop Search conducted in the Charlotte Harbor estuary waters of Lemon Bay and Gasparilla Sound. The search is a way of assessing bay scallop distribution and trends in abundance over time in local waters.
This event was the first of four volunteer based scallop
searches scheduled in southwest Florida. The others occurred
in Sarasota Bay, Tampa Bay and Pine Island Sound.
Volunteers who participated in the search attended a required
training session where they received monitoring gear and instructions
on how and where to sample. The methods used are
designed to provide uniform data that can be used to compare
different areas of the bay, different areas of southwest Florida
(Tampa to Pine Island Sound) and one year to the next. It is
important to note, volunteers do not look for every scallop
in the study area, just those that fall within their narrowly defined search area.
All total 30 teams went out in the Charlotte event. That comprised 24 boats & 6 groups of kayakers. Each
team was assigned an area to sample. Sites ranged from just north of the Tom Adams Bridge down to Boca
Grande and then east to Turtle Bay.
This year’s event documented 20 live scallops during the search. A slight decrease from the 24 observed in
2011. Although these numbers are low, they still represent a positive sign for our area.