A far stretch from last weekend, red tide cleanups by the City of Gulfport and Pinellas County Public Works have slowed down following a decline in fish kills. While levels are low off Gulfport Pier as of Friday, July 30, medium levels persist on the beaches from Pass-a-Grille to John’s Pass, with higher concentrations found further out in the Gulf.
Gulfport’s Public Works Director Tom Nicholls says that the city has discontinued sanitation trucks on the beaches while fish kills are low.
“We are not using the sanitation trucks at this time because the numbers are light,” Nicholls said. “But they are higher than they have been in the last few days.”
On Friday, July 30, the City of Gulfport filled a 30-gallon garbage bin with 100 pounds of dead fish.
“City workers will be out working over the weekend,” Nicholls said.
Residents can report fish kills to FWC through the FWC Reporter app, by calling 800-636-0511 or by submitting a report online. Large fish kills should be reported to the county here. 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.
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.
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.
The FDOH – Pinellas advises residents not to 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.
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.