Tampa Bay Watch ─ Healthy Bay, Healthy Community

by | Sep 14, 2022 | Community, Environment | 0 comments

Tampa Bay Watch provides habitat for important wildlife and improves quality of our waters and the environment in which we live, work, and play.

Cast your fishing line. Enjoy a paddleboard ride. What’s not to cherish about Tampa Bay? Yet, behind every outdoor adventure is a team making it possible.

Tampa Bay Watch staff and volunteers — from students to retirees — can often be spotted across Tampa Bay installing oyster reef balls, forming oyster shell reefs, and planting native grasses to create living shorelines. Their work provides habitat for a variety of important wildlife and improves the quality of the waters and the environment in which we live, work, and play.

Pinellas Community Foundation, like Tampa Bay Watch, supports solutions to challenging issues. Safeguarding the environment is one of them. When bays, shorelines, and marine life thrive, we all thrive. Tampa Bay Watch has been working to help our watershed thrive since 1993.

Peter Clark, president and founder of Tampa Bay Watch, states, “The core of our organizational development is to energize the community, the young, and the young at heart, to take a leading role in the recovery of the bay. Throughout our 30 years of existence, we have found that people really, truly want to make a difference in the health of the bay and are looking for a way to contribute.”

Tampa Bay Watch provides the critical science and coordination necessary to create projects and invite community groups, schools, youth programs and others to participate in hands-on construction. The nonprofit has coordinated more than 250,000 volunteers, students, and campers; installed 15,000 oyster reef balls and 2,500 tons of shell to create miles of oyster shell reef communities; planted more than 1,000,000 salt marsh grass plants to restore 250 acres of coastal tidal ponds to Tampa Bay; and there is still much more to accomplish!

Education has always been a part of the nonprofit’s mission by empowering students to act as stewards of the Tampa Bay estuary by providing hands-on field experiences at the Auer Marine Education Center in Tierra Verde. Programs focus on estuary dynamics through activities such as the “plankton encounter” where students collect and use microscopes to study some of the smallest animals and plants that play an integral role in estuary and ocean health. The goal is to develop students’ commitment to their local environment by increasing their understanding of the function of the estuary. It is our hope to instill a genuine love and respect for Tampa Bay and the animals that inhabit it in all students who participate in field trips and summer camps. Over 42,000 students and teachers from over 150 schools have participated in Tampa Bay Watch field trips since the program was founded.

Tampa Bay Watch doubled in size in 2020 when opening the Discovery Center on the St. Pete Pier. With a variety of exciting exhibits, public programs, and field trip opportunities to offer, there is nowhere else quite like the Discovery Center in Tampa Bay. The facility is a significant addition to education and conservation efforts, and it allows the expansion of the organization’s reach to local, national, and international visitors. The ultimate goal is to advance environmental stewardship by engaging, informing, and inspiring visitors through success stories about the recovery of Tampa Bay, and empowering the future of our ecosystem.

Help Our Tampa Bay Waters and Wildlife

Learn more about how you can make a difference in the health of the bay.