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How 'scallop-sitters' help to improve gulf's scallop population

The University of Florida and its Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have started a project to help the once-depleting scallop population.

HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. — The University of Florida and its Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension stepped in to help our two-shelled friends off the coast of Hernando County.

Some pre-season scallop abundance surveys in 2017 revealed very low numbers of the shellfish in the gulf, and harvesters were having a hard time finding them.

To help restore the population, UF/IFAS "scallop-sitters" worked through the fall and winter of 2020, according to the university. 

These volunteers were able to catch and cage wild scallops and put them near seagrass beds around Hernando County's coastal water and away from predators. This allowed the scallops to stay in close vicinity of one another and increased the chance of any released eggs being fertilized.

It is very important for Florida scallops to replenish annually because they only live up to two years.

People who may come across the anchored cages that contain scallops are asked to not disturb them and to report any tampering to FWC law enforcement officers. 

The university says that the "trained and legally permitted volunteers" will continue to care for the scallops throughout the 2021 spawning season.

Farther south, organizers hope the annual Great Bay Scallop search will return next year after being canceled in the Tampa Bay region due to the intense shock of red tide.

RELATED: Tampa's Great Bay Scallop search canceled by red tide

RELATED: Pasco's 10-day bay scallop season begins Friday

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