Experts have explained why we’re seeing a red tide in the Tampa Bay area and explained why they think Piney Point could be making the problem worse.
TAMPA, Florida – Tampa Bay is experiencing a red tide and marine life is dying every day. Water experts have explained why they believe the Tampa Bay area is experiencing a red tide.
University of South Florida professors like Robert Weisberg said the red tide the Tampa Bay area is experiencing is due to a bloom that started in Lee County.
This flowering dates back to December according to FWC. Due to wind and currents, the bloom moved north to the coast in the Tampa Bay area. The bloom was first detected along our coastal beaches.
He traveled into Tampa Bay because of the currents and the wind. Weisberg said he thinks the releases from Piney Point could fuel that same bloom and make things worse.
“I don’t think it would have reached the levels we see without Piney Point,” Weisberg explained.
Important to keep in mind, Weisberg thinks there was already a bloom. This means he thinks the nutrients from Piney Point might be fueling the bloom instead of causing it.
“A lot of nutrients were dumped into the bay, which didn’t cause the red tide to begin with,” Weisberg said.
Tampa Bay President Peter Clark agreed that discharges from Piney Point could feed nutrients to Tampa Bay.
“It’s really not a stretch to look at the Piney Point dumps that happened in central Tampa Bay at the end of the dry season and then all of a sudden we’re dealing with a major red tide event” , Clark explained.
The two water experts said there is a lot of research being done by other agencies, such as FWC, to further investigate Piney Point’s role in the current red tide bloom.
Clark said the red tide in Tampa Bay was the worst he had seen.
“What we’re seeing right now in our area is worse than what we saw in 2018,” Clark said.
Weisberg explained that the red tide blooms this year are different from other years. The red tide detected along our coastal beaches this year has arrived earlier than usual. The red tide does not usually appear in early summer.
Weisberg also explained that this is different from the red tide we saw in 2018. This year, a bloom came from the south. In 2018, there was a flowering that lingered on the previous year.
“We had a red tide in 2017, that red tide persisted. Then in September 2018, we received a new injection of cells from offshore, which added to what was already there, which in blooms so badly,” Weisberg explained.
Experts said it’s hard to predict how long the red tide will be around, but Weisberg thinks that because we’re seeing it so early, it could be an indication that the bloom will persist through the fall.
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