Our Mission

Tampa Bay Watch is dedicated to fostering a healthy Tampa Bay watershed through community-driven restoration projects, education programs, and outreach initiatives.



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Discovery Center

Explore our educational space on the St. Pete Pier, featuring interactive exhibits, daily programs, and a touch tank full of animals from the estuary!

Together, we can bring life to the bay.

It takes a community to make lasting change and protect the future of Tampa Bay’s ecosystem.


Volunteer Calendar

Check out all of our upcoming volunteer opportunities.

Become A Member

Are you passionate about protecting our waterways? Take a stand for Tampa Bay’s future.

Our annual events are designed to educate, entertain, and strengthen the community.

Host an unforgettable occasion at our beautiful waterfront event space.

Derelict Crab Trap Removal

Removing lost crab traps

All types of marine debris, including trash, derelict crab traps, and monofilament fishing line are a persistent problem in Tampa Bay waters. Blue crab traps become derelict when owners may no longer be able to locate their traps if the float becomes separated from the trap, or if the trap itself moves (by storm events or human activities). Once the float and/or trap line have been lost, crab traps are difficult to see from the water’s surface. Unfortunately, there is currently not a realistic way to keep blue crab traps from becoming derelict. In response, agencies & organizations like ours conduct semi-annual cleanups of an area to prevent the traps from becoming hazardous to the environment.


What is a Derelict Crap Trap?

If derelict traps are found, do NOT remove them. Instead, record the location of the trap and any other pertinent information on a GPS or chart, and then contact us to report your findings.

  • Any trap found in the water during closed season for that species.
  • Any trap that is not fishable (i.e.; lacks six intact sides).
  • Any fishable trap during open season that lacks at least three of the following: buoy, line, current trap tag, and/or current commercial saltwater products license.
Play Video

Watch the video above to see a recap of the 2023 Ghost Trap Rodeo


Minimizes Bycatch
Helps to reduce unnecessary bycatch of marine organisms.
Clears the Bay
Removes marine debris from the environment;
Protects Boaters
Eliminates safety hazards to boaters.
Community Education on Marine Debris
Expands public education on the problems associated with marine debris.

Our approach

Tampa Bay Watch conducts derelict crab trap removals two times throughout the year: in the winter months to coincide with the extreme low tides for easiest identification traps, and during the semi-annual closure of the blue crab fishery that happens in July of odd-numbered years.

The two yearly events are coordinated with multiple organizations to ensure maximum safety and results. We authorize our cleanup activities with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC), and we coordinate with the Florida Airboat Association for the use of airboats during the winter events which allow access to the shallow areas where conventional boats would be unable to enter. At each event, derelict traps are identified, recorded, and brought back to the boat ramp where they are destroyed and disposed of. All of the data that is collected is then submitted to FWC for entry into their statewide database.

Email Serra Herndon with questions about this program: [email protected]