Fish are dying by the tens of thousands off the Pinellas County coast due to a persistent red tide algae bloom. Clean-up crews are now trying to get the dead fish before they wash ashore.
Mayor Rick Kriseman said Wednesday that the city is straining its resources to pick up dead sealife from the current Red Tide crisis and called for more help from the state and Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“Our city teams can only keep at this for so long,” he said during a news conference held in waterfront Crisp Park, backed by a crew scooping dead fish with pool skimmers and a fishing net off a sea wall. “We are asking the governor, please … we need your help.”
As of Tuesday morning, Kriseman said, the city had collected 477 tons of dead marine life. A day later, that total has surely risen, and the mayor estimated it is likely over 500 tons.
FOX 13 reported:
“We are winning the war today,” proclaimed Jay Gunter of DRC Emergency Services. “We really have gotten a handle on this side of Pinellas, which I’m talking about the St. Pete Beach area. We’ve really made a huge effort to keep it out of Treasure Island best we can; the Intracoastal.”
Gunter is leading a fleet of contracted boaters out into the bay. Shrimp boats are bay filling their nets with dead fish. At the same time, at least six additional crews are conducting the inshore cleanup.
So far, crews have picked up 410 tons of dead marine life.
Since Tropical Storm Elsa swept Florida last week, the problem has become worse, as strong winds pushed scores of lifeless fish onto the shores of St. Petersburg, surrounding residents and visitors in a miasma of rotting death.
“Tampa Bay is really sick right now, really extraordinarily bad,” Justin Bloom, a Florida-based lawyer and environmental advocate, told the Tampa Bay Times. Even after the 15 tons had been cleaned up, the fish were still everywhere — out in the water, on the shores, in the mangroves. On Saturday in Vinoy Park, which overlooks the bay, thousands of dead tarpon and snook, both shiny scaled fish, lined the sea wall and were scattered in the water, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Cleanup crews say they are seeing more species affected by this years’ bloom. Sting rays, baby turtles, eels, snook and other species that do not typically show up in these massive fish kills have died.
The cause is still uncertain. The release of wastewater earlier this year at Piney Point contributed at least 215 tons of nitrogen to Tampa Bay but there may have been other factors as well.
Latest Red Tide Status Report Available by Phone
Call 866-300-9399 at any time from anywhere in Florida to hear a recording about red tide conditions throughout the state. Callers outside of Florida can dial 727-502-4952. Standard calling charges apply.
Reports are updated on Friday afternoon except during holidays, in which case the report will be released on the closest day. Additional information, if available, is provided on Wednesday afternoon. To receive an e-mail when the current status has been updated, visit this subscription area.