Fear of Red Tide prompts Tampa Baywatch to cancel annual scallop search

David Vesper, 58, of Tierra Verde examines a scallop before throwing it back during Tampa Bay Watch's 21st Annual Great Bay Scallop Search. The event has been canceled for this year because of concerns about Red Tide. Each year Tampa Bay Watch plans the Great Bay Scallop Search, a Tampa Bay treasure hunt-type resource monitoring program where 200 community volunteers and 35 volunteer boaters have been recruited to snorkel in search of the ellusive scallops in select areas within Boca Ciega and Lower Tampa Bays. 
www.tampabaywatch.org.
 [JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times (2014)]
David Vesper, 58, of Tierra Verde examines a scallop before throwing it back during Tampa Bay Watch's 21st Annual Great Bay Scallop Search. The event has been canceled for this year because of concerns about Red Tide. Each year Tampa Bay Watch plans the Great Bay Scallop Search, a Tampa Bay treasure hunt-type resource monitoring program where 200 community volunteers and 35 volunteer boaters have been recruited to snorkel in search of the ellusive scallops in select areas within Boca Ciega and Lower Tampa Bays. www.tampabaywatch.org. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times (2014)]
Published August 21
Updated August 21

Tampa Bay Watch president Peter Clark announced Tuesday that the organizationís popular Great Bay Scallop Search will not take place this weekend ó or at all.

Although itís the environmental watchdog groupís most popular event, Clark said, the organization did not want to risk bringing people into contact with the lingering Red Tide algae bloom.

The bloom has not yet made it past Anna Maria Island just south of the mouth of the bay, but the University of South Floridaís College of Marine Science has predicted it will eventually move north.

"In order to protect the health and safety of an anticipated 200 snorkelers in Lower Tampa Bay we are required to err on the side of caution and cancelled the event for 2018," Clark said in an email to the Tampa Bay Times.

The annual event is a resource monitoring program where community volunteers snorkel to search for scallops in select areas within Boca Ciega Bay and Lower Tampa Bay. The event has been conducted annually since 1993 with the goal to monitor and document the health and status of the local bay scallop population. Forty volunteer boaters were scheduled to take snorkelers into the bay to search for elusive bay scallops.

Bay scallops disappeared from Tampa Bay in the early 1960s when the bay water was highly polluted from dredging operations and industrial and municipal waste. Tampa Bayís water quality and seagrass beds have since improved to levels that will once again support the bay scallop population.

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