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UF IFAS sponsoring ‘Scallop sitter’ program

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB)- Scallops are a delicacy in the Florida Panhandle and many don’t know it, but they can be found right here in our local bays.

However, due to an outbreak in red tide years back, the scallop population isn’t what it used to be. In an attempt to help these scallops thrive, residents are lending a hand and their time.

“It relies on volunteers that Sea Grant works with FWC to train, and we’re there to help them get scallops from FWC and put them out into cages in the bay, hopefully to increase the numbers of scallops that we have to harvest in future years,” said UF IFAS Sea Grant Program Director, Scott Jackson.

Being a scallop sitter means more than just keeping an eye on them in their cage. It comes with a little hard work.

“They’ll also clean the cages and they’ll take water quality parameters, they’ll check the salinity near the cage and just be sure there’s no predators in there and just kind of watch over them and make sure they’re still healthy and hopefully one day… eventually able to produce offspring,” said Jackson.

With 5,000 scallops at the start of the season, 96 cages and 70 volunteers between Gulf and Bay county, this year’s scallop sitters are in full swing.

While this year’s have already been trained, it’s never too early to look into becoming a scallop sitter next year.

“If you’re interested in becoming a scallop sitter, you can contact the Bay County office at 850-784-6105,” said Jackson.

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