TAMPA, FLA. (WSVN) - Parts of the Sunshine State are dealing with some serious tide trouble, and it’s causing a smelly mess.
Tons of dead fish are washing onshore across the Tampa Bay area. The fishy situation has prompted several beaches to close for around-the-clock cleanup.
It’s a disturbing sight to see and smell. Dead fish are littering the shorelines across Tampa Bay.
“I’ve been coming in for 10 years,” said a fisherman. “I mean, it’s the worst ever seen.”
Baitfish, sport fish, stingrays, even dolphins and manatees have all been killed by red tide and are piling up.
“I think many people had high hopes that Elsa might, you know, either wash the red tide out of the bay or the winds might break up the red tide organisms,” said Maya Burke, assistant director of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program. “Unfortunately, that’s not really what we’ve seen.”
The Florida Fish and Wildlife red tide map shows high concentrations of the microorganism that causes red tide blooms in the waters of Hillsboro Bay and Tampa Bay, and officials don’t think this problem will be resolved quickly.
“I do think we need to be sort of strapped in for the long haul. It is very unusual to see red tide at these concentrations in Tampa Bay, especially this early in the rainy season,” Burke said.
An aerial view shows a shocking amount of dead fish in the water that will eventually come ashore.
Pinellas County leaders have been keeping a close eye on the situation, saying extra crews are now being brought on to help with the cleanup.
“Tomorrow we’ll be launching a contracted boat cruise, four of them from Fort DeSoto,” said Pinellas County public information manager David Connor, “and they’ll be working to remove dead fish from St. Pete Beach, Tierra Verde, Fort DeSoto and Shelke preserve.”
In St. Petersburg, more than 120 employees have been taken off their normal jobs to remove dead fish around the clock. It’s tedious work picking the fish out of the mangroves by hand.
“We’ve collected 15 tons of fish in those 10 days, and nine tons of those fish have actually been picked up in the last 24 hours,” said St. Petersburg’s emergency manager Amber Bouldin.
St. Petersburg city officials said over 100 miles of coastline has been impacted by this wave of red tide.
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