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RESTORATION

Previous bay scallop restoration efforts included two projects along Florida’s west coast. From 1997 to 2002, researchers targeted scallop populations between the Anclote River in north Pinellas County and Crystal River in Citrus County. In another project from 2002 to 2005, they continued targeting scallops in the nearshore waters between the two rivers while adding restoration efforts in Tampa and Sarasota bays.

In each project, researchers used juvenile bay scallops raised by a University of South Florida hatchery or by Bay Shellfish Co., Inc. They planted the scallops in wire cages anchored to the seafloor. Scientists then monitored the scallops monthly and recorded growth, death and reproduction.

man pouring water into inwater net

Because of the amount of labor and high costs associated with wire-cage restoration, FWRI scientists shifted to a more low-maintenance method – larval releases. Since 2005, restoration programs have relied on an aquaculture facility in Palmetto, Florida to spawn and raise scallops through their early developmental stages. Within 10 to 14 days, they reach the pediveliger stage – the point at which scallop larvae are ready to settle out of the water and attach to seagrass blades.

During a larval release, researchers place the pediveligers into large containment enclosures (left) or release them directly into the seagrass. Released scallops that survive to adulthood will increase the number of spawning scallops in the population. More spawning scallops will produce a higher number of larvae, which helps boost the number of scallops in future generations.

Browse bay scallop publications.