BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — A line f cars wrapped around the IFAS office on 14th

“Scallop Sitters” are exactly what you think they are.

State wildlife officials let locals lend a hand in scallop restoration by babysitting their own batch of scallops from for the season, June until January.

The “Scallops Sitters” go through an online class to learn how to take care of their scallops. Throughout the season they scan a QR code on their buckets which takes them right to the FWC portal, where they can import their data. “

FWC Biologist Kelly Williams explains, “We have them pull up their cages once a month. They count the number of scallops that they have left if there are any dead scallops they record how many died, and then they take a salinity measurement, and that salinity measurement lets us see how that area is because they are also reporting their location. So we’ll know how that area did or didn’t work for future restoration efforts. Again, we’re really trying to figure out what part of the bay is best for scallops and where we might be able to concentrate our efforts in the future.”

Sitters receive a bag, with about 50-baby scallops in a bucket, a cage equipped with bricks and a floater, a scrubber brush, an oyster knife, a map of the bay and seagrass beds, and a hydrometer to measure the salinity in the water.

Of course, some “Scallop Sitter” swag is in there too.

Scott Jackson of the UF/IFAS Extension of Bay County said, “We really couldn’t do this project without Scallop Sitters, the hours that sitters put into the project are going to total somewhere in the hundreds for each individual person. All totaled together were talking you know probably the equivalent of at least 3-4 people full time that is able to devote a little bit of time that adds up to a whole lot of impact in our county.”

The first Scallop Sitter program in 2019 had amazing results. COVID scrapped the 2020 season, and the 2021 season was a washout due to major rainfall and low salinity.

Everyone involved is hopeful that 2022 will be a good season.

Wildlife officials will be holding a Scallop Rodeo in St. Andrew on August 6th, where they may be able to set some more people up as Scallop Sitters.

If you’re interested to do it next year, here is the link to the FWC Scallop Sitters registration page.