Water-Related News

Boat captains, snorkelers needed for annual Pine Island scallop search

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Join Florida Sea Grant – UF/IFAS Lee County Extension and the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation by participating in the 2018 Pine Island Sound Scallop Search, a resource-monitoring program in which volunteers snorkel and search for scallops in select areas within Pine Island Sound. The event is sponsored by Lee County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, Friends of Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve and Pineland Marina.

This is a no-harvest event.

The purpose of the search is to monitor and document the health and status of the bay scallop population. Up to 40 boats are needed with as many as 150 participants to search selected sites in Pine Island Sound and San Carlos Bay for the elusive “bay scallop.”

Large populations of bay scallops (or Argopecten irradians) disappeared from Southwest Florida waters decades ago due in large part to degraded water quality, related declines in seagrass acreage, over-harvesting and other causes. Water quality and seagrasses have improved in many areas to levels that may once again support these important bivalves. This event is modeled after the successful Great Bay Scallop Search conducted in Tampa Bay since 1993. Pine Island Sound’s inaugural event was in 2010.

Reservations are required to participate in the event. Space is limited. Scallop searchers will meet at 8:30 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 18, at Pineland Marina, 13921 Waterfront Drive, Pineland, to receive survey equipment and instructions for the monitoring event. Lunch will be provided to participants once they return to shore and report their information.

Volunteers with shallow-draft boats are asked to let organizers know the style and size of their boats. Volunteers should bring a dive flag if possible. Canoes and kayaks are also welcome, but sites are very limited; sign up early. Personal watercraft (Jet Skis, Sea-Doos, etc.) are not allowed in the search.

Snorkelers without boats are welcome; however, space is limited. Volunteers need to bring a mask, snorkel and gloves and need to be able to snorkel/ swim 50 meters (about 150 feet) along the bottom — fins and weight belt are optional but suggested.

Sign up using the link below, email Joy Hazell, or call FL Sea Grant at the Lee County Extension office: (239) 707-1267.

Photo by David Moynahan, courtesy Florida Sea Grant