Bay scallops are marine bivalves, or mollusks with a hinged shell, that are often found hidden among a forest of seagrass.
Having a robust population of bay scallops in Tampa Bay is important for many reasons. Scallops are filter feeders and remove algae and organic matter from the water column. Additionally, during periods of red tide, they help remove algae cells and store toxins in their gut. Scallops are a key indicator of Bay health due to their requirement for clear, salty water, and robust seagrass habitat.
Achieving a sustainable scallop population in Tampa Bay is one priority action under the TBEP Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP). Before this can happen, an assessment of the status and trends of the current population in Tampa Bay must occur. One source of data to assist with this effort is an annual citizen science initiative organized by Tampa Bay Watch, in partnership with TBEP. The Great Bay Scallop Search is a community-driven event when boaters search areas in lower Tampa Bay where scallops are likely to be found. The data collected is a valuable source of information for tracking abundances in Tampa Bay.
The scallop search dashboard was created to raise awareness of scallops in the Bay and to assist with TBEP reporting of scallop abundances to achieve CCMP goals. This dashboard provides an overview of the importance of scallops as a resource in Tampa Bay, shows results for each year of the search, and presents a summary of trends over time. This dashboard is one of several open science tools to improve the transparency of information that can be used for data-driven management decisions.