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Red Tide expected to stay around Pinellas coast this weekend

Tampa Bay has shown improvement. Pinellas crews have picked up at least 1,711 tons of dead sea life and debris.
Black skimmers fly over the water while looking for food in June by Indian Shores.
Black skimmers fly over the water while looking for food in June by Indian Shores. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]
Published Jul. 30
Updated Jul. 30

The toxic Red Tide bloom is expected to linger off the west coast of Pinellas County this weekend, while conditions in Tampa Bay keep improving.

A high level of Red Tide was detected Friday at Madeira Beach, according to the county. Medium levels were found off Honeymoon Island, Clearwater Beach, Redington Shores and Treasure Island.

Related: Red Tide isn’t just bad for fish, as a Tampa Bay man learned in the ER

A Red Tide forecasting tool from a University of South Florida lab suggests the bloom will remain off the gulf beaches through the weekend. That model is based on ocean currents and water quality data from the state.

Crews had picked up at least 1,711 tons of dead sea life and debris as of early Thursday, said Pinellas spokesman Tony Fabrizio. That was still short of the estimated 1,862 tons collected during the last bad Red Tide bloom in 2018.

Fish kills close to shore have eased during the last week, so the county on multiple days did not deploy contractors to gather carcasses. Instead, reports of dead fish were turned over for cities to handle.

Related: Is Red Tide hurting Tampa Bay tourism?

Red Tide can cause people to suffer breathing trouble and other health effects.

The bloom is patchy, with conditions varying between beaches. Pinellas recommends visitors go to www.beachesupdate.com for the latest conditions.

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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