The creatures appear as something out of a science fiction movie.
Their outer shell is hard and rounded with scaly groves. A mouth stretches along the entire diameter of the body with hundreds of fringe-like tentacles.
A ring of bright royal blue eyes sweep around each edge of the mouth.
But this bivalve mollusk is no alien.
It’s the native Bay Scallop, a sea food delicacy once found in abundance along the sea grass bed of the Santa Rosa Sound.
The population dramatically declined in the 1990s from over harvesting and degradation of water quality, prompting the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to ban the once prevalent commercial harvest and significantly limit recreational harvests.
Since the decline, the FWC has been working to collect data on the state of populations throughout the harvest zone, but areas like Santa Rosa Sound and Big Lagoon are lacking in data collection leaving many to wonder how the population that once thrived here is fairing.
That’s where Chris Verlinde of the UF/IFAS Extension Florida Sea Grant comes in.
Saturday, July 30, Verlinde organized 19 volunteer teams of 3 to 4 for the second annual Great Scallop Search in Santa Rosa Sound.
Read the full article in the Aug. 4 issue of Navarre Press. Click HERE to subscribe for as little as $38 per year.