After one last, hard smack at Fort DeSoto and Shell Key over the Thanksgiving holiday last week, Red Tide has disappeared from Pinellas County’s beaches.
“We’re shutting down” county environmental management director Kelli Hammer Levy said Tuesday regarding the ongoing cleanup. “The bloom is now south of us.”
The red tide has been especially deadly for manatees. BayNews9 reported:
According to recently released FWC statistics, from September 29 through October 30, Red Tide killed 14 manatees in Pinellas. Garrett said the only good news is the numbers have been subsiding this month, with only two dead manatees so far in the County.
“It seems maybe subsiding a little bit in terms of carcass of numbers. I know there’s still red tide out there,” he said. “Maybe it’s more patchy at this time but it doesn’t seem to be bothering manatees right now.”
Statewide red tide has killed 206 manatees, pushing the total mortality rate to 752. That puts this year on track with 2013, when 830 manatees died, setting a new Florida record.
“In 2013, saw a bad situation where the toxin was on the grass beds down in Ft. Myers area. Animals coming out of the power plants feeding, going back to the power plants,” Garrett said. “So, there’s the potential to set up for a really bad situation come the beginning of next year.”
Federal scientists fear that the bloom will cause the dolphins to suffer even further, as the toxins have wipe out thousands and thousands of fish that the dolphins would normally eat.
The toxic algae bloom, which scientists have described as the worst in a decade, has been lingering off the state’s gulf coast for a year. Red Tide algae floats in the Gulf of Mexico all year round. No one knows what starts a bloom, when the algae suddenly multiply rapidly and begin killing fish, dolphins, sea turtles and manatees by the score.