Pine Island Scallop Count Gives Mixed Results
Local volunteers snorkeled Pine Island Sound recently to count scallops. It was the sixth annual Great Bay Scallop Search in Lee County. Scallop numbers were so low in the 1980s, it caused a local fishery to close. Now, Florida Sea Grant is checking to see if those numbers are bouncing back.
It was morning at Pineland Marina. About 120 volunteers were gathered around Joy Hazell. She organizes the Great Bay Scallop Search every year for Florida Sea Grant. It’s a University of Florida-based research program tasked with conserving coastal resources. "You have a close-up map of your grid, so that's where you're assigned," Hazell said to her volunteers. She organizes the Great Bay Scallop Search every year for Florida Sea Grant. It’s a University of Florida based research program tasked with conserving coastal resources.
This event gives a glimpse of how the Bay scallop population is doing in Pine Island Sound.
Hazell demonstrated the proper way to snorkel while searching for scallops in the brackish water. She said to first throw in a 50-meter rope line that has weights on either end. Hazell calls this line the “transect.” "You're gonna gave two divers who will snorkel the length of the transect and count scallops," she said. She held a meter-long white stick in front of her. Snorkelers use the stick to push down sea grass and see the scallops better underwater.
After the training, everyone separated into their boats. I got on a 22-foot-long boat with five other people.