■ STAFF REPORT
Calling all volunteer boaters and snorkelers! Your help is needed for the annual Great Bay Scallop Search. The event is planned to take place from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 18. The purpose of the resource monitoring program is to document the health and status of bay scallops populations by snorkeling and looking for scallops in select areas. This is a no-harvest event.
Organizers are recruiting volunteers with shallow-draft boats, canoes or kayaks. Snorkelers without boats are welcome, but space on boats will be limited.
Volunteers should bring sunscreen, a mask, snorkel and gloves, and be able to swim 150 feet.
Scallop searchers will meet at 8:30 a.m. at Cape Haze Marina, 8214 Harborside Circle in Englewood to receive survey equipment and instructions for the monitoring event. Lunch will be provided when you return to the marina. Boaters who have participated in a previous scallop search will be able to pick up their equipment at the Placida public boat ramp the morning of the event and proceed directly to their assigned survey site. Reservations are required to participate in the event, and space is limited. Reserve your spot at https://goo.gl/4T4eT4.
If you live south of Boca Grande and would like to participate in the search at Pineland Marina on Pine Island, reservations are required to participate in that event. Jet skis are not allowed. Reserve your spot by calling the Lee County extension office at (230) 707-1267, or send an email to Joy Hazell at email@example.com.
Large populations of bay scallops (Argopecten irradians) disappeared from Southwest Florida waters decades ago, due in large part to degraded water quality, related declines in sea grass acreage, overharvesting and other causes. Water quality and sea grasses 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, and Englewood has participated in the event for the past ten years.
Lee County Parks and Recreation, Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, Friends of Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve and Pineland Marina sponsor the annual event.
For more information, visit https://2018pineislandscallopsearch.eventbright.com.