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Two local beaches close due to bacteria outbreak

Thousands of dead fish, like this one at the Courtney Campbell Parkway Beach, may have been killed by an algae bloom that formed in Tampa Bay.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Thousands of dead fish, like this one at the Courtney Campbell Parkway Beach, may have been killed by an algae bloom that formed in Tampa Bay.

CLEARWATER — The Courtney Campbell Parkway Beach and Ben T. Davis Beach in Tampa were closed Wednesday because of a bacteria outbreak that killed thousands of fish.

Preliminary water tests conducted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission indicated there was an algae bloom in the bay.

"This bloom may result in low dissolved oxygen, and in addition, this algae can clog the gills of the fish," said Carli Segelson of the wildlife group. "The shape of the algae is a long and spiky shape that gets into the gills and causes respiratory problems for the fish."

Segelson said researchers are gathering freshly dead fish or fish that are about to die in hopes of determining the precise cause. In addition, water samples were collected and the results are due this week.

Clearwater's beach closing is precautionary until a reason is found, said Krystal Schmidt, a city spokeswoman.

According to a release from Clearwater, the cause of the dead fish "likely is not Red Tide."

The dead fish included catfish, menhaden, trigger, puffer and spade fish, as well as a stingray. Clearwater workers began removing the dead fish Wednesday afternoon.

Algae blooms are common in summer and early fall in upper Tampa Bay, Segelson said.

"The conditions that contribute to it are lots of sunlight, warm temperatures, calm water and increased runoff from lands due to the wet season and daily rain," Segelson said.

It is not known when the beaches will reopen.

Demorris Lee can be reached at dalee@sptimes.com.

Two local beaches close due to bacteria outbreak 07/30/08 [Last modified: Thursday, July 31, 2008 3:12pm]
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