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Red Tide levels receding in Pinellas County

Fort De Soto may still be a trouble spot, but other coastal areas are doing better, according to Pinellas officials.
A bird inspects a dead fish along the beach at Honeymoon Island State Park on June 16 in Dunedin. A bloom concentration of Red Tide has continued to plague parts of Pinellas County beaches.
A bird inspects a dead fish along the beach at Honeymoon Island State Park on June 16 in Dunedin. A bloom concentration of Red Tide has continued to plague parts of Pinellas County beaches. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]
Published Jun. 30
Updated Jun. 30

The Red Tide situation is improving somewhat on the Pinellas side of Tampa Bay.

Water samples taken Tuesday at beaches from Pass-A-Grille to Fred Howard Park showed low concentrations of the microorganism Karenia brevis, which causes the toxic algal blooms, according to county officials.

However, high and medium concentrations were found off Fort De Soto Park beaches. Fish kills were reported and cleaned up from Fort De Soto and the St. Petersburg waterfront in recent days, according to the county. The latest readings were conducted by the the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Related: Could Tampa Bay’s Red Tide be connected to Piney Point disaster?

A high concentration was reported off the Venetian Isles canal and a medium concentration off the tip of Bayboro Harbor. Low concentrations were found in Clearwater Pass, La Contessa Pier, Madeira Beach, Pass-a-Grille Beach, Coquina Key Drive and the St. Pete Pier.

The commission is also investigating the death of a dolphin found about 8:30 a.m. Sunday, beached near Beach Drive NE and 11th Avenue NE. The carcass was taken in for examination, but a cause of death has not been determined.

The county said a bloom in Old Tampa Bay is not Red Tide, but a seasonal bloom of Pyrodinium bahamense, which can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning.

There also are Red Tide blooms in the Intracoastal Waterway, but the county said there have been no “major issues” recently.

In the meantime, Pinellas officials reported fewer dead fish for clean-up crews to remove from the coastline. The contracted crews have been scaled back, and government staffers have been handling clean-up duty.

The county has cleaned up nearly 225 tons of debris and dead fish killed by algal blooms. The owner of the old Piney Point fertilizer plant released 215 million gallons of polluted wastewater into Tampa Bay in April, which scientists believe could have helped fuel the algal blooms.

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Red Tide resources

Florida Poison Control Centers have a toll-free 24/7 hotline to report illnesses, including from exposure to Red Tide: 1-800-222-1222

There are several online resources that can help residents stay informed and share information about Red Tide:

Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, the county’s tourism wing, runs an online beach dashboard at www.beachesupdate.com.

The agency asks business owners to email reports of Red Tide issues to pr@visitspc.com.

Pinellas County shares information with the Red Tide Respiratory Forecast tool that allows beachgoers to check for warnings.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has a website that tracks where Red Tide is detected and how strong the concentrations.

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How to stay safe near the water

  • Beachgoers should avoid swimming around dead fish.
  • Those with chronic respiratory problems should be particularly careful and “consider staying away” from places with a Red Tide bloom.
  • People should not harvest or eat mollusks or distressed and dead fish from the area. Fillets of healthy fish should be rinsed with clean water, and the guts thrown out.
  • Pet owners should keep their animals away from the water and from dead fish.
  • Residents living near the beach should close their windows and run air conditioners with proper filters.
  • Visitors to the beach can wear paper masks, especially if the wind is blowing in.

Source: Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County