Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Bay Scallop Restoration Efforts in 2013

From The Field

Robbie Hudson
Restoration Ecologist
Save The Bay completed its seventh year of active Bay Scallop restoration in 2013. Last year's restoration efforts using a caged scallop spawning sanctuary were located in Ninigret Pond, with spat line monitoring (we look for baby scallops on lines that we set) in both Ninigret and Point Judith Ponds. Dive surveys (we record the adult population of bay scallops and their predators) were completed in these two pond systems as well as in Quonachontaug Pond. Save The Bay uses a caged scallop spawning sanctuary approach to restoring this species as the cages provide protection for the scallops from predators. In return, the protected scallops are able to spawn and contribute to the following year’s adult population.

The spat line monitoring and the dive surveys allows us to monitor the success of the project and provides much needed information on how this species reacts to restoration efforts, harvesting pressures, and environmental factors. After reviewing the data collected from these efforts it appears that the bay scallop population had decreased from 2012 to 2013 in the South County Salt Ponds. One of the potential factors that may have contributed to a decrease in the population is the increased rainfall in June. Scallops are sensitive to decreases in the water’s salinity (how salty the water is); they have a low tolerance to fresher water and are unable to tightly close their shells (valves) together. 

Bay scallops are a fragile and sensitive species; the average life cycle of a bay scallop is about two years. This makes them prone to harvesting pressures if not done properly. The harvest season for bay scallops currently begins on the first weekend in November and only adults scallops may be collected. These regulations are in place so that the bay scallops are able to reproduce and contribute to the sustainability of the species, and the ecological and economically benefits of having the scallops in our waters. 

Save The Bay’s 2013 Scallop Restoration efforts were funded primarily by NOAA Restoration Center and Restore America’s Estuaries. Previously, the Rhode Island Coastal and Estuary Habitat Restoration Fund, managed by RI Coastal Resources Management Council, has awarded funds to this project. Save The Bay restoration projects would not be possible without help from its many volunteers. 

Project support and cooperation were provided from NOAA RestorationCenter, RI Department of Environmental Management, the RI Coastal ResourcesManagement Council, Narragansett Harbor Management and Conservation Commissions, Charlestown Coastal Pond Management Commission, and YMCA Camp Fuller

We need your help in 2014

We're looking for volunteers to assist us with scallop work in 2014. Click here to let us know that you're interested!

- Robbie

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