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Water-Related News

Sarasota Bay Watch looks to bring clams back to Sarasota Bay

SARASOTA — Sarasota Bay Watch Inc., the area nonprofit that already introduced millions of scallop larvae into Sarasota Bay, is starting an ambitious program to release more than 175,000 southern hard shell clams into the estuary.

About 3,000 clams were placed in the New Pass area on April 20, as a test case.

The hope is to bring the species, one of which can filter almost 50 gallons of water per day, back to Sarasota Bay.

Rusty Chinnis, chairman emeritus and one of the founding members of Sarasota Bay Watch, noted that clams have a lifespan of almost 30 years.

That, in one way, makes clams a more cost-efficient species than scallops for the 11-year-old nonprofit to concentrate on in its all-volunteer effort to both maintain and improve the quality of Sarasota Bay.

The first large-scale introduction of clams into the waters of Sarasota Bay is scheduled for May 12. As many as three more trips are planned in June and a total of eight through the summer.

The hope is that eventually southern hard shell clams will reproduce and thrive in Sarasota Bay — helping to clean the water, as well as contribute to the food chain.