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Sarasota Bay Watch to use 1 million clams to help water quality

Clams can naturally clean algae from water.

Local nonprofit Sarasota Bay Watch hosted its annual Scallopalooza fundraiser event in February where it was presented a $10,000 donation from Helios Technology, which will help fund an ongoing water improvement project involving clams.

More than 400 donors attended and raised enough money to provide 1 million clams for the project. Clams have a natural ability to clean water, which was displayed at each table at the fundraiser.

“We placed a vase of water filled with algae at the center of each table. You couldn’t see through it at all,” said Ronda Ryan, the executive director of Sarasota Bay Watch. “The water was clear in about 30 minutes, and I think that says more than words can.”

The 1 million clams that were made available through the fundraiser will be added to the 875,000 clams already placed in Sarasota and Manatee county waters. Clams can restore waters affected by algae overgrowth, red tide and, perhaps most importantly, a decline in sea grass.

Ryan said clams are only a part of restoring water but play a vital role. Although Sarasota Bay Watch is not a government entity and relies on donations to operate, the clam project has utilized the skills and systems of professionals, including scientists.