Are there scallops in the Pensacola Bay system? It’s a question scientists and volunteers will be trying to answer this weekend.
Scallops are not common locally. Sightings of the bivalve mollusks are rare.
“This year no one has reported seeing any,” said Chris Verlinde, with the UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant Extension based in Santa Rosa County.
For the second year, the Sea Grant Extension is teaming with both Santa Rosa and Escambia counties in an effort to assess the scallop scene with the Santa Rosa Sound Great Scallop Search. The event involves coordinated teams of volunteers snorkeling local waters in search of the scallops.
“Last year we found some shells, but we didn’t find any live ones,” Verlinde said.
During the search, scheduled for Saturday, July 30, teams of volunteers will conduct surveys of various nautical-square-mile areas.
Each team will consist of a boat captain, with their boat, and three to four people to conduct the surveys.
According to Verlinde, scallops are “indicators of really good water quality.” The fact that they are difficult to find could point to a decline in the water quality in the local system.
“Probably just the changes in the water quality in our whole basin,” the Sea Grant extension agent explained.
Volunteers interested in participating in the scallop survey can contact the extension offices at 850.623.3868 (Santa Rosa) or 850.4755230 (Escambia). The event has a 40-team limit and captains and volunteers must pick up survey equipment at Shoreline Park South from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., July 29.