Sarasota Bay Watch Focuses on Youth Leadership
One of Sarasota Bay Watch’s (SBW) main agendas has been to build a strong base of youth volunteers who can learn and practice the leadership skills to carry on SBW’s mission of preserving and restoring Sarasota Bay's ecosystem through education and citizen participation into the future. Over the years this work has been growing with the assistance of College and Post-Graduate Interns as well as those from colleges and high schools.
The 7th Annual Scallop Search:
Volunteers Find 40 Scallops
At the 4th Scallopalooza on August 9th our community raised $20,000 for our local scallop restoration! Sarasota Bay Watch is thankful for this hopeful spirit and support as we approach our restoration season. Thank you to all who participated.
THANK YOU TO THE SPONSORS AND VOLUNTEERS THAT MADE THIS POSSIBLE
Sarasota Bay Watch 2014 and Beyond!
2013 was a great year for our community and the bay! Sarasota Bay Watch and its volunteers donated well over 2500 hours to restore and protect our waterways, marine life and natural habitat. Volunteers also removed over 2 miles (!) of fishing line from local waterway bird rookeries and rescued live entangled birds. The rescued birds were taken to Save Our Seabirds for treatment and recovery.
Throughout 2013 Sarasota Bay Watch sponsored 7 volunteer-based events where people could come out, get their feet wet and help cleanup the bay. In addition to community wide events like the 6th Annual Scallop Search and the 5th Annual Sister Keys Cleanup, we also sponsored events designed specifically for our student partners: Pineview, Riverview High School, Sarasota High School, and Sarasota CREW.
Sarasota Bay Watch also started a new joint initiative with Mote Marine Laboratory to create right here in Sarasota, on the Mote campus, a community-powered Scallop Nursery. The nursery will allow Mote, SBW and other scallop restoration partners to grow scallop larvae up to juvenile, and even adult, life stages for scientific research and release into the bay. It is a very exciting project – stay tuned for developments and opportunities to help.
Additionally, Sarasota Bay Watch’s second year of our 10 year Scallop Restoration Project successfully released approximately 26 million scallop larvae and over 100,000 juvenile scallops into the bay waters in Manatee and Sarasota counties. This brings the cumulative project release total to approximately 54 million scallop larvae. This project is funded entirely by our local community through our Scallopalooza fundraiser, which raised $25,000 for scallop restoration this year.
Sarasota Bay Watch’s art exhibit “Gulf Coast Heritage: At The Intersection Of Art And Local History” opened at the Conservation Foundation and can be seen there through February 2014, and at various local venues throughout the New Year.
See the article in the Longboat Observer
Sarasota Bay Watch continues to build and expand partnerships with stakeholders like Mote Marine Laboratory, Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, Selby Gardens, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, Longboat Key Garden Club, Sarasota Yacht Club, Sarasota Sailing Squadron, Audubon, Save Our Seabirds, Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Florida Maritime Museum, Sarasota County, Manatee County, Town of Longboat Key, START, Bay Shellfish Company, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, AMI Sun, The Observer Group, Mar Vista Restaurant, Sir Speedy, AMI Outfitters, New College, Pineview, Riverview High School, Sarasota High School, Science and Environment Council of Southwest Florida and Sarasota CREW.
5th Annual Monofilament Cleanup
Results in Rescue of 3 Seabirds and
Nets 800 Pounds of Trash and Fishing Line!
On October 5th Sarasota Bay Watch held its 5th Annual Monofilament Cleanup. The objective is to prevent the unnecessary suffering of aquatic birds and to join the world-wide groundswell to keep plastic out of our oceans. Sixty volunteers on boats, in kayaks, and on foot cleaned coastlines between Cortez and Roberts Bay, and retrieved approximately 800 pounds of trash and fishing line. Eight trash cans of recyclable materials were gathered and included plastic bottles and bags, buckets, glass bottles and beer cans. The fishing line that was collected will be weighed, measured, and mapped with the help of Mote Marine Laboratory interns. The line will be recycled and the data will be shared with scientists in the Florida Entanglement Working Group.
This year, for the first time, our volunteers rescued three entangled birds and delivered them to the wildlife hospital at Save Our Seabirds, where they are expected to make a full recovery. Four dead birds were also found, which is a disappointing increase over previous years.
Luke Yates, Hannah Yates, Sarah Oliveri- Save our Seabirds Avian Hospital Administrator, a rescued cormorant, Kai Meighan, Joshua Meighan
Sarasota Bay Watch has numerous allies in this project. The Sarasota Sailing Squadron provided the venue and lunch, Audubon of Florida provided expertise on the timing and methods for cleaning of rookeries. Save Our Seabirds trained the volunteers on safe and proper technique for rescuing entangled birds (which proved extremely beneficial this year!). Island Style Watersports donated 16 kayaks for volunteers to use, and the Carefree Learner floating classroom brought 16 Sarasota High School teen volunteers. These partnerships have improved the volunteer knowledge base, improved rescue effectiveness, and contributed to an overall fun and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.
In September, Sarasota Bay Watch paired with the Sarasota Crew rowing program to collect monofilament from the Jim Neville Preserve in Little Sarasota Bay. In November, Sarasota Bay Watch will be partnering with the vibrant retirement community of Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay for the Second Annual Coon Key Cleanup. What started out 5 years ago with 5 volunteers has now expanded into a multiple location collaborative effort to clean and protect roosting habitats - making our local waters even better!
Sarasota natives tell us of a time when the bays were teeming with fish and the sun cast shadows from thousands of birds flying overhead. Time and again this community has demonstrated their love for fishing, boating and birding in and around our local waters. The good life in Sarasota is fishing smart, keeping our mangrove islands safe for our avian friends, and taking the lead in preventing the "plastic ocean" seen in other parts of the globe. Sarasota Bay Watch - a healthy bay is everybody's business.
2013 Scallop Restoration Is Off To A Great Start
Sarasota Bay Watch got an early start to scallop restoration this year, releasing it’s first batch of scallop larvae (6.7 million) on September 12th. This compares to last year’s November 10th first release, where scallop spawning was held back due to red tide threats. SBW quickly followed up the initial release with additional releases of 5.5 million and 9 million larvae, the latter in the middle of the recent historic flooding rainstorms! Scallop larvae need to get into the bay 10 days after spawning when they are ready to settle out of the water onto sea grass so SBW volunteers are on the water rain or shine to get the job done.
Jim Culter (Mote Marine), Ronda Ryan and Steve Traves (SBW volunteers) and Kevin Burnette (Mote Marine intern) brave the weather to help restore scallops.
This year SBW also kept 100,000 scallop babies at the Bay Shellfish Co. so that the hatchery could grow them up to juvenile stage. This is an expensive step and the capacity to grow juveniles is much less than that for larvae. However, it is a very exciting development because not only will the scallops be large enough to see and touch, but it also enables SBW to release scallops at a later life cycle that hopefully will help avoid early life cycle predation. Since so little is know about successful scallop restoration we are trying lots of different approaches to re-establish stable breeding populations in Sarasota Bay.
So far this year we have put about 21 million scallops into the bay, and we have enough money for one more batch. This will bring our total to about 30 million, which compares to 24 million last year. Congratulations to everyone for making that happen.
Will will run out of scallops well before scallop restoration season is over – last year we released scallops through the end of December! It is just a matter of money and being able to purchase scallop babies from the hatchery. Get you friends and local businesses to donate now to keep scallop restoration going. We have months to go and could put many, many millions more scallop babies into the bay by year end. Encourage everyone you know to donate now at www.sarasotabaywatch.org.
SBW and SRQ CREW clean up Midnight Pass
SBW joined forces with Sarasota CREW kids to cleanup the bird rookeries and mangrove fringes around the Jim Neville Marine Preserve and Midnight Pass area. It was a great event that netted lots of fishing line and tackle (which entangle and kill sea birds) as well as loads of trash. We hope to do it again next year with our new friends at CREW.
"Check out Sarasota Bay Watch's Facebook page for great pictures of the event"
Larry Stults Ph.D., J.D.
Annual Scallop Search
Gulf of Mexico Program (GOMA) Awards SBW 3rd Place Gulf Guardian Award in Civic/NonProfit Organization
Sarasota Bay Watch is honored to be awarded the 3rd place Gulf Guardian Award in the Civic/Non-Profit category for our Sarasota Bay Scallop Restoration Project. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Gulf of Mexico Alliance reviews marine educational and restoration programs from states that touch the Gulf of Mexico, and neighboring states whose watersheds drain into the Gulf. Every 2 years GOMA selects exceptional projects and presents Gulf Guardian Awards.
We send out a great big THANK YOU to all of our volunteers, partners, and donors for helping to make our local scallop restoration efforts an award winning project!
Special thanks to the State of Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI), Mote Marine Laboratory, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, Bay Shellfish Co. and the Sarasota Yacht club for key scallop restoration partnerships.
Here is the official photograph from U.S. EPA's Gulf of Mexico Alliance, Gulf Guardian Award Ceremony:
Ron Curry, Regional Administrator, U.S. EPA Region 6, Dallas, TX, Larry Stults, SBW President, Ronda Ryan, SBW Program Director, John Ryan SBW Co-Founder (holding the Sarasota Yacht Club burgee - thanks SYC for all of your support) and Beverly Banister, Acting Deputy Regional Administrator, U.S. EPA Region 4, Atlanta GA