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Indian Rocks' Lopez wins U.S. surfing title

Indian Rocks Beach's Shea Lopez put on an incredible display of aerial and power surfing at Huntington Beach, Calif., last week to win the $100,000 U.S. Open of Surfing.

Conditions for the final, held before more than 50,000 spectators, ranged from 5- to 6-foot surf early in the heat to 8-foot-plus waves for the last 15 minutes.

It is the 25-year-old's biggest professional win. Lopez earned a check for $10,000 (his share of the purse) and, more important, 23.25 points toward the world title.

SPEARFISHING TOURNAMENT: Spearfishermen from around the state are scheduled to gather in Pinellas County Friday-Sunday for the 34th annual St. Pete Open. Billed as the "World's Largest Spearfishing Tournament," the Open draws divers from as far away as Hawaii. Organizers are expecting 250 competitors.

Divers have set some impressive records, including a 111-pound grouper, 20-pound hogfish and 85-pound amberjack.

While seas are not always calm, the St. Pete Open has never been canceled because of weather. The tournament has been postponed just once, when a hurricane was barreling up the Gulf of Mexico in 1988.

Entry fee is $60. Call Gerry Rice for information, (727) 867-4363.

CORAL SPAWNING: If nature observation is your thing, there is nothing like the annual spawning of coral in the Florida Keys. Divers and snorkelers have the opportunity to watch as the coral release millions of iridescently phosphorescent eggs and sperm toward the water surface at the end of this month.

The exhibition, dubbed the "coral orgy" by some divers, is believed to revolve around the August full moon.

Coral reefs are found around the world's oceans but those in the Florida Keys experience earlier sunsets and are typically the first to spawn.

Elkhorn and staghorn coral are expected to spawn this year Aug. 28-30, and star coral is expected to spawn Sept. 1-3.

Pinpointing the exact spawning time nearly is impossible, but the event does attract a wide array of marine life. Select dive operators throughout the Keys are offering special coral spawn trips, with boats departing the docks at 8 p.m. and returning to shore as late as 2 a.m.

For more information, call (800) FLA-KEYS or visit the Keys Web site at www.flakeys.com.

GREAT SCALLOP SEARCH:Boat captains and volunteers are needed for the Great Bay Scallop Search, set for Aug. 28 at Fort De Soto Boat Ramp.

In the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, the waters of Tampa Bay were highly polluted from industrial and municipal wastes as well as large-scale dredging operations. Poor water quality resulted in the collapse of scallop and oyster fisheries and serious declines in the bait and food shrimp industries, as well as the spotted sea trout and redfish fisheries.

The Clean Water Act of 1970 gradually helped improve water quality and scallops are making a tentative comeback to Tampa Bay waters.

The Great Bay Scallop Search is a resource-monitoring program. Volunteers snorkel along set transect lines in lower Tampa Bay and count scallops. Last year, volunteers found 27 scallops.

Reservations are required. Call Tampa BayWatch at (727) 896-5320 for information.

FISHSEARCH: Looking for the latest on what's biting around the country. Visit www.fishsearch.com.

Picked as one of USA Today's "hot sites" of the week, fishsearch.com will give you the data on tides and ocean currents, as well as the latest reports from anglers and manufacturers.

Up next:Correction

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