PANAMA CITY, Fla. – A red tide in 2015 wiped out much of Port St. Joe’s scallop population.
Years later, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is still trying to re-populate the bays with scallops.
On Sunday, volunteers took the first step in a new effort to bring scallops back to our area.
The every-day Floridians are soon-to-be scallop sitters. They’ll take on a regional challenge that’s starting right here in Bay County.
“[It’s the] kick off to our ten year restoration project that’s going to be throughout the entire panhandle,” Emily Hardin, FWC’s Northwest Region Volunteer Coordinator, said.
Each volunteer will get a cage of about 25 scallops that they’ll monitor.
“You’ll either go out once a month on a boat and you put them in the bay and you take care of them, or you have them on on your dock at your house,” Kelly Williams,” a biological scientist with FWC said.
“The goal is that the cages are going to keep the scallops safe from any predators, and it’s also going to keep them in close quarters so they have really high reproductive success,” Hardin said.
Unfortunately, the cages don’t make themselves.
“Today is construction day,” Williams said.
“This is a huge community effort. We have families and individuals who are monitoring cages. We even have some neighbors who are working together to monitor their scallops. A lot of businesses and different organizations are helping us whether they are recruiting volunteers, or have a business cage that they’re taking care of,” Hardin said.
“Hopefully we’ll have a much better reproductive success and we’ll have more scallops to come,” Williams said.
AMI Kids Marine Institute hosted the cage building event.
Their teachers will also be taking some cages to incorporate in their classroom curriculums.