Bay Scallop Projects in Charlotte County....

In 2008, Sea Grant initiated monitoring efforts in partnership with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to assess bay scallop populations and trends in Charlotte County's coastal waters. 

Bay scallops:

Bay scallops (Argopecten irradians) occur throughout Florida’s Gulf Coast and up to West Palm Beach on the Atlantic Coast.  Bay scallops are known as bi-valves, meaning two valves (shells).  Scallops open their valves when feeding or breathing and close it when predators approach.  Bay scallops feed by filtering particles from the water.  It accomplishes this by funneling water across two pathways called siphons.  One pathway takes the water in where the particles are skimmed off and then the second pathway expels the remaining filtered water.  A single adult scallop can pump as much as 15.5 quarts of water per hour. 

 An adult bay scallop can reach sizes up to three inches.  In the water, they are recognized by their many tiny blue eyes that line the rim of each shell.  These eyes detect movement. When threatened, a scallop swims away by quickly closing its shell, expelling the water inside which propels the scallop through the water.  Bay scallops live the majority of their lives in shallow water seagrass meadows.  They prefer higher salinity waters (over 20 parts per thousand) and require good water quality conditions. 

 There was a time when bay scallop populations in SW Florida were healthy enough to support harvest.  Today, recreational harvest of bay scallops is only allowed in state waters north of the Pasco-Hernando county line to the west bank of Mexico Beach Canal during a limited season. 


Volunteer Opportunities....

The Great Bay Scallop Search is a resource monitoring program where volunteers snorkel along set transect lines in lower Lemon Bay and Gasparilla Sound to count scallops and document the population trend.  The 1st Great Bay  Scallop Search was conducted in 2009.  Over 100 volunteers participated in the event and documented 94 live scallops. 

The 2015 Great Bay Scallop Search is scheduled for August 1st. Registration will begin in late June. Contact the organizer via email at or by calling the Charlotte County Sea Grant Extension office at 941.764.4346.

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Bay Scallop Spat Monitoring is conducted monthly in lower Lemon Bay and Gasparilla Sound.  Spat collection traps are deployed in areas with suitable water quality and seagrass habitats.  Monthly, traps are collected and recruiting scallops are counted by the FWC-Florida Fish & Wildlife Institute as part of their wild stock assessment process.

Community Based Cage Recruitment is a volunteer restoration program where volunteers deploy and maintain cages containing bay scallops from their personal docks in lower Lemon Bay and Gasparilla Sound.  Scallops are maintained through the spawning cycle with hopes that larvae spawned will settle and grow in suitable areas of the estuary.

NOTE: Harvesting of Bay Scallops is not allowed in any waters of SW Florida.  For rules regarding bay scallop season and legal harvest locations, please visit:

For more information about Bay Scallops visit:


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