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Pinellas warns beachgoers of ‘stronger Red Tide impacts’ this weekend

The county said winds may blow dead fish ashore and cause minor breathing problems.
A sign warns about Red Tide at Indian Rocks Beach on Thursday.
A sign warns about Red Tide at Indian Rocks Beach on Thursday. [ ARIELLE BADER | Times ]
Published Jul. 23
Updated Jul. 23

Forecasted winds “may cause stronger Red Tide impacts” across the Pinellas beaches this weekend, county officials warned Friday. That could include trouble breathing for those living near or visiting the coast and more floating dead fish.

The toxic algal bloom was worst in Tampa Bay last week, but the center of the problem has shifted. Through Thursday, Pinellas had collected more than 1,518 tons of dead sea life and debris.

The county’s lead healthy agency issued an advisory in early June for Red Tide, and it still applies. It warns that people might experience minor breathing trouble or a scratchy throat, nose and eyes while around Red Tide. The symptoms are similar to how a person might feel if they were to come down with a cold. Those with chronic respiratory conditions could suffer more severe effects.

The county said not all beaches will have the same conditions and advised people to visit http://www.beachesupdate.com/ for updated reports.

Beachgoers should not swim around dead fish, according to the health advisory, and they should keep pets away from tainted water. If someone does have breathing trouble, they may find relief by going into an air-conditioned space.

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Red Tide coverage

Tampa Bay has Red Tide questions. Here are some answers.

Is it safe to eat seafood? Here’s how Red Tide affects what you eat.

Can I go fishing? The state is limiting saltwater fishing.

Piney Point: The environmental disaster may be fueling Red Tide.

Red Tide resources

• The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has a website that tracks where Red Tide is detected.

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

• To report dead fish for clean-up in Tampa Bay, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-800-636-0511 or file a fish kill report online.

• In St. Petersburg, call the Mayor’s Action Center at 727-893-7111 or use St. Petersburg’s seeclickfix website.

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

How to stay safe near the water

• Do not swim around dead fish.

• Those with chronic respiratory problems should be careful and stay away from places with a Red Tide bloom. Leave if you think Red Tide is affecting you.

• Do not harvest or eat mollusks or distressed and dead fish from the area. Fillets of healthy fish should be rised 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.

• Beachgoers can protect themselves by wearing masks.

Source: Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County