Red tide is back – though really it never left. With multiple blooms persisting in Tampa Bay, and residents finding dead fish just about everywhere, the red tide concentrations are ramping up in Boca Ciega Bay and the Gulf beaches.
After a break in water testing for Tropical Storm Elsa on Wednesday, Pinellas County and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) resumed monitoring on Thursday, July 8, finding high red tide concentrations from Treasure Island down to Pass-a-Grille, according to a report Thursday. The county found medium levels of red tide blooms in Fort De Soto and Madeira Beach. High levels of red tide also persist in the bay around downtown St. Petersburg.
There was no information immediately available about bloom concentrations near Gulfport, however a flight on Thursday “revealed patchy areas along the Gulf coast and within Boca Ciega Bay. Satellite imagery shows a red tide bloom along the St. Petersburg coastline and within Boca Ciega Bay.”
While there are no beach closures for Pinellas County beaches at this time and the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County has not issued any beach warnings, high levels of red tide can cause respiratory distress for those who are sensitive to it, especially when the wind is blowing onshore.
The county advises residents who find dead fish near their dock to retrieve them with a skimmer and dispose of them with their regular trash or call their local municipality for additional guidance.
“Occurrences of red tide in the Gulf of Mexico have been documented for centuries, but blooms can be worsened by excess nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous,” reads the county release. “Residents are reminded that fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorus cannot be used or sold through September 30, and phosphorus cannot be used any time of year unless a soil test confirms that it is needed.”