Algae blooms lead to health alert for coastal Pinellas County
Red tide warnings issued
FOX 13’s Justin Matthews was with a clean-up crew today to see the fleet that’s being used to clean up the mess from Red Tide.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Florida Department of Health still has an alert in effect in Pinellas County because of red tide blooms.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has detected high concentrations of Karenia brevis, the organism that causes red tide, in areas of Tampa Bay.
The impact is causing thousands of fish in local waterways to die, and clean-up crews are busy dealing with the mess.
“This morning was really bad I mean, we had stacks of fish in here pretty deep. I tell people, it looks like you could walk across them,” said Jay Gunter from DRC Emergency Services, who is contracted by the county to clean up dead fish.
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Eight of their boats were deployed Sunday. Two of them were shrimp boats.
“They’re very effective when we’ve got the whole lines of them and drifts of them out there, so they’re effective, they’re very productive. The shrimp boats have done a great job out here helping us get it up,” Gunter said.
He says there aren’t as many dead fish now compared to the 2018 algal blooms.
According to the Pinellas County Department of Health, people in the area may experience mild and short-lived respiratory symptoms such as eye, nose, and throat irritation similar to cold symptoms due to a red tide bloom along Pinellas coastal beaches. Some individuals with breathing problems such as asthma may have more severe symptoms.
Health officials say symptoms typically go away when a person leaves the area or goes indoors and advise anyone experiencing issues to stay away from the beaches and call their doctor if symptoms persist.
For over a week, cleanup crews have been working around the clock to keep up with the massive number of dead fish washing onshore across the Bay Area.