2021 Escambia County Scallop Search Results

The scallop search is a citizen science project with the objective of assessing the status of bay scallop (Argopecten irradians) in the Pensacola Bay area. Trained volunteers, using snorkel, survey four 50-meter transects within one of the pre-marked grids in either Big Lagoon or in the Pensacola Beach area (see grid map below). There are two snorkelers surveying 1-meter each side of the transect line covering an area of 100m2 / transect – which is 400m2 / grid. Some grids are surveyed by multiple volunteer teams. The state of the seagrass is also assessed. Below are the 2021 results for Escambia County.


Location Body of Water Grid # of volunteers # of scallops found Percent of area covered in seagrass Presence of macroalgae on seagrass Species of seagrass found
Perdido Key Big Lagoon 3 5 0 45 Yes No data
7 2 0 No data Yes Turtle, Shoal
81 4 0 83 No Turtle
111 3 0 76 No Turtle, Shoal, Scallop shells found
111 Same 3 0 100 No Turtle, Shoal, scallop shells found
Pensacola Beach Little Sabine 11 3 0 0
3 0 5 No Shoal
Big Sabine 27 4 0 20 No Turtle, Shoal, maybe Manatee
3 0 50 Abundant Turtle, Shoal, maybe Manatee
30 4 0 92 Yes Turtle. Maybe Manatee
TOTAL 17 0


1 Grids found within the National Seashore.



17 volunteers surveyed a total of 7 of the possible 19 grids available (37%). This equated to 4000m2.

Seagrass was found in 9 of the 10 transects surveyed. Two surveys were conducted at the west end of Little Sabine. One conducted four transects and recorded 5% of the area was covered in seagrass. Another team surveying four transects within the same grid did not find any seagrass.

The other surveys reported seagrass coverage ranging from 20-100%. Both turtle and shoal grass were found in water less than 2 meters, and manatee grass was reported as possibly being at Big Sabine by two different teams.

No live scallops were found during any of the surveys. Scallop shells were reported from Grid #11 in Big Lagoon.



Bay scallops were once found in these same areas several decades ago. Over the last five years only one live scallop has been found during the surveys, that being in grid #11 in Big Lagoon. However, anecdotal reports from citizens suggest periodically finding scallops do occur. The author has personally seen them within the last 20 years.


Needed seagrass was found in all grids accept the west end of grid #11 at Pensacola Beach (west end of Little Sabine). Both turtle grass and shoal grass were found. Two teams did report possibly finding manatee grass near Big Sabine and this will be reported to the University of West Florida for verification. Macroalgae is considered a problem for seagrass by impairing their ability to photosynthesize. This algae can become abundant in warm, nutrient rich waters. Macroalgae was reported along the north shore of Big Lagoon and in Santa Rosa Sound near Big Sabine. One report from grid #27 at Big Sabine reported that it was abundant. Seagrass appears to be absent from the west end of Little Sabine. The east end of Little Sabine was not surveyed this year.


Bay scallops appear to be all but absent from the bay area at this time. There are plans to conduct surveys in deeper water (2-4 meters) using SCUBA to determine if they are living deeper. We will continue this project next year.


Jeri England and gang

Farren Brook and gang

Bob Jackson and Jerri Johnson plus family

Nicole, Mike, Della, and the Florida Public Archeology Network

Charlene Mauro and the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station

Bailey, Amy, Sam, Caroline and the UWF gang

Gina Hertz and hubby

David Grimm

Christian Wagley and Donald Killorn (Pensacola-Perdido Bay Estuary Program) and others



Grids in Big Lagoon

Grids in Santa Rosa Sound


Posted: August 17, 2021

Category: Coasts & Marine, Natural Resources
Tags: Scallop Search

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