SBEP to Provide Technical Expertise in an Effort to Boost Local Scallop Populations
The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) is providing technical expertise in an effort to help boost the scallop population in Sarasota Bay. The plan is to do four scallop releases beginning in the fall and continuing in early spring. Two locations have been identified for the release; North Bay and the vicinity of New Pass and Big Pass. Other participating organizations include Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Sarasota Bay Watch, and Mote Marine Laboratory.
The restoration technique that will be used was developed by the SBEP Staff Scientist, Jay Leverone, PhD. The technique involves the release of millions of hatchery produced scallop offspring (larvae) into the Bay’s most productive seagrass meadows. One of the ways to measure results is counting the number of scallops that settle on artificial collectors placed around the designated restoration site.
Dr. Leverone worked previously for more than twenty years as a scientist at Mote Marine Laboratory where he conducted research about shellfish restoration. The SBEP provided funding for various grants supporting his efforts. The SBEP also funded the first scallop restoration project in Sarasota Bay in 1993.
The SBEP, with ongoing support from its partners, is also active in the restoration of oysters in Sarasota Bay. Two beds have been developed at Little Sarasota Bay in Sarasota County and the Gladiola Fields in Manatee County. Oyster beds provide structural habitat for many species of fish and invertebrates. Oysters are also valued for their ability to improve water quality through their prolific filtering capacity.
The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program is dedicated to restoring the area's greatest natural asset—Sarasota Bay. Its unique program strives to improve water quality, increase habitat and enhance the natural resources of the area for use and enjoyment by the public. Sarasota Bay is one of 28 estuaries in the United States that have been named by the U.S. Congress as an "estuary of national significance." Partners include Sarasota County, Manatee County, City of Sarasota, City of Bradenton, Town of Longboat Key, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Southwest Florida Water Management District, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.