Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Fish thieves hit Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary

INDIAN SHORES — Bad news keeps coming for the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary.

Someone broke into the sanctuary, at 18328 Gulf Blvd., the night of March 7 and took about 100 pounds of fish from the organization's bait hut. It appears, operations manager Micki Eslick said, that whoever broke in had a key.

Indian Shores police say they have closed the case because they have no leads and no suspects.

The sanctuary, founded in 1971 by zoologist Ralph Heath, has in the past claimed to be the largest nonprofit wild bird hospital in the United States, with emergency facilities, a surgical center, and indoor and outdoor rehabilitation areas.

But finances have been periodically rocky for the organization and have become desperate in the past couple of years.

Last year, the federal government filed three liens totaling about $186,726 for unpaid payroll taxes. That seemed to unleash a tsunami of problems that include a finding by the U.S. Department of Labor that the sanctuary had left some employees unpaid for weeks. The sanctuary agreed to pay $21,336 in back wages.

This year, a mortgage holder filed notice that he plans to foreclose on a sanctuary-owned warehouse on Starkey Road. And the state filed a tax lien of about $7,684 for failure to pay unemployment taxes.

The sanctuary announced at the end of January that it could no longer take in sick and injured birds, but that it intended to stay open.

The sanctuary closed its hospital but remains open for tours. Eslick said the sanctuary is trying to raise funds to recover.

Anne Lindberg can be reached at or (727) 893-8450.

Fish thieves hit Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary 03/15/13 [Last modified: Friday, March 15, 2013 10:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Nick White's 'How to Survive a Summer' takes on homophobia at its worst


    Will Dillard's summer camp experience is a real horror movie.

  2. Senate leaders unveil bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act


    The New York Times

    WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans, who have promised a repeal of the Affordable Care Act for seven years, took a major step on Thursday toward that goal, unveiling a bill to cut Medicaid deeply and end the health law's mandate that most Americans have health insurance.

    U.S. Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled a proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The bill's chief author, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has said "Obamacare is collapsing around us, and the American people are desperately searching for relief." [AP]
  3. Southwest Airlines to offer flights from Tampa to San Diego


    TAMPA — Southwest Airlines will offer new nonstop service from Tampa International Airport to San Diego International Airport beginning Jan. 8, 2018.

    Southwest Airlines is planning to launch service from Tampa to San Diego.
[Times file photo]
  4. The greatest coaches never to win it all


    As foregone conclusions go, some things are approaching the death-and-taxes stratosphere: summer humidity in Florida, a Kardashian seeking attention, and Mike Martin coming up short in Omaha.

    Florida State coach Mike Martin walks to the mound to talk to pitcher Cole Sands during the second inning of the team's NCAA College World Series baseball game against LSU Wednesday in Omaha, Neb. [AP photo]
  5. Bucs fans ranked 25th in study of NFL teams


    The Bucs and their fans are ranked 25th in an Emory University study of NFL teams' "fan base and branding analysis."

    Bucs fans were on their feet for this fourth-quarter play at home against the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium in 2015.