Tampa Bay Watch holds annual Great Bay Scallop Search

Last Updated: Sunday, August 21, 2016, 3:08 PM EDT

A total of 54 scallops was found at the annual Tampa Bay Watch’s Great Bay Scallop Search on Saturday.

  • 23rd Annual Great Bay Scallop Search held Saturday
  • Goal is to monitor health and status of scallop population
  • Volunteers search selected sites for bay scallops

The event is a resource monitoring program where community volunteers snorkel to search for scallops in select areas within Boca Ciega and Lower Tampa Bays.

It’s been conducted annually since 1993 with the goal to monitor and document the health and status of the local bay scallop population.

Some years, volunteers find many scallops and other years they don’t, according to Tampa Bay Watch. Factors that may affect the scallop population include water quality, red tide, high rainfall and storms.

An all-time high for the event was 674 scallops, found in 2009. Volunteers found 233 last year.  

Bay scallops disappeared from Tampa Bay in the early 1960s when the bay water was highly polluted from dredging operations and industrial and municipal wastes. Tampa Bay’s water quality and seagrass beds have since improved to levels that will once again support the bay scallop population.