Cleanup from the massive fish kills caused by red tide continue, with more than 900 tons of dead sea life collected, largely from Tampa Bay, according to the county.
Now, Pinellas County is activating a reporting tool for residents to make red tide cleanup requests. As an indicator of the sale of the issue, a county press release on Friday, July 16, stated that the tool “should only be used to report fish kills in the hundreds to thousands.”
The tool can be used in all areas of the county, except the City of St. Petersburg, which has its own reporting portal, according to the county.
Access the county tool at pinellascounty.org/redtide and click on “Pinellas County Red Tide Reporter.” From there, click on “Submit a Report” to add the location, type of problem, comments, contact information and photos. Location information can be provided by either typing in an address or creating a point on the map.
“This simple tool speeds up the response to clean up large quantities of dead fish,” said Pinellas County Public Works director Kelli Hammer Levy.
Residents should use the tool for large-scale fish kills in open water or on public property. For smaller quantities and on private property, residents can dispose of them through their regular trash or in a designated dumpster. Find dumpster locations here.
Currently, red tide remains present in low to high concentrations along the beaches from Fort De Soto Park to Honeymoon Island, as well as within the Intracoastal Waterway and Tampa Bay, according to the county. Cleanup crews contracted by the county have at least 16 vessels conducting cleanup. According to the county release, they have removed 902 tons of red tide-related debris through Thursday, July 15.
More on Red Tide
Red tide can cause respiratory and other problems in people who are sensitive to it. The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas advises residents not to swim where they see dead fish. If you have chronic respiratory problems, be careful and consider staying away from areas where medium to high levels of red tide are reported.
Do not harvest or eat shellfish or distressed or dead fish in red tide locations, and keep your pets away from water, sea foam and dead sea life.
Residents living in beach areas are advised to close windows and run the air conditioner (making sure that the A/C filter is maintained according to manufacturer’s specifications). If outdoors, the FDOH – Pinellas says you may want to wear paper filter mask, especially if onshore winds are blowing.
Florida Poison Control Centers have a toll-free 24/7 hotline for reporting illnesses, including health effects from exposure to red tide at 1-800-222-1222.
Pinellas County contributes to the Red Tide Respiratory Forecast tool for anyone considering a beach visit. Visit St. Pete/Clearwater maintains a beach status dashboard that also includes this information at beachesupdate.com.
Large fish kills have been reported in St. Petersburg and areas of the Intra-Coastal Waterway. Residents can report fish kills to FWC through the FWC Reporter app, by calling 800-636-0511 or by submitting a report online. Residents who find dead fish near their property can retrieve them with a skimmer and dispose of them with their regular trash or call their local municipality for additional guidance.
Fertilizer ban reminder: Red tide blooms can be worsened by excess nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous. The county reminds residents that there is a ban on fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorus through September 30, and phosphorus cannot be used any time of year unless a soil test confirms that it is needed.