UNC research team studying bay scallops on east coast

Published: Aug. 23, 2019 at 8:24 PM EDT
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A research team along the coast is hoping to better understand what conditions one species there needs to survive.

A research team out of UNC's Institute of Marine Sciences is doing a grid search of bay scallops in sea grass meadows in the Back Sound off the coast of Harker's Island.

PhD student, Amy Yarnall says, "We're snorkeling around these different sea grass meadows and looking at how many scallops are remaining in these sea grass meadows through time and whether they are alive and happy, or have been eaten or decided to leave for whatever reason."

The scallops were placed there last summer, so researchers could study what conditions these creatures need to survive.

"These are scallops that have been placed here in a specific number so that as we come back day after day we can know the true number of scallops that are remaining. In the mid 1980's, Eastern North Carolina experienced a pretty devastating Red Tide event that essentially wiped out our bay scallop fishery," says Yarnall.

Friday was the last day for the experiment and researchers say they hope to have more answers after studying all of the data collected over the last two summers.

"It's an extremely important question to figure out what type of sea grass meadow is going to best for bringing bay scallops back because the North Carolina bay scallop fishery has been closed since 2006 so we're seeing positive signs and it's important to find the answers to these questions so we can bring the fishery back in the near future," says Yarnall.