High TI red tide levels at Pass-a-Grille

Photo courtesy of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The red tide is back – although in reality it never left. With multiple blooms lingering in Tampa Bay and residents finding dead fish all over the place, red tide concentrations are increasing at Boca Ciega Bay and Gulf beaches.

After a pause in water testing for Tropical Storm Elsa on Wednesday, Pinellas County and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) resumed monitoring Thursday, July 8, finding elevated concentrations of red tide from Treasure Island to Pass-a-Grille, according to a report Thursday. The county found average levels of red tide blooms at 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 on bloom concentrations near Gulfport, but a Thursday flight “revealed patchy areas along the Gulf Coast and in Boca Ciega Bay. Satellite imagery shows a tidal red along the St. Petersburg coast and in Boca Ciega Bay.

Although there are no beach closures for Pinellas County beaches at this time and the Pinellas County Florida Department of Health has not issued any beach advisories, high tide levels red can cause respiratory distress for those sensitive to it, especially when the wind blows ashore.

Pinellas County encourages beachgoers to use the Red Tide respiratory forecast tool. Visit St. Pete/Clearwater also maintains a beach status dashboard at beachesupdate.com.

Residents can report fish kills to FWC through the FWC Reporter app, by calling 800-636-0511 or by submitting a report online.

The county advises residents who find dead fish near their dock to scoop them up with a slotted spoon and dispose of them with their regular trash or call their local municipality for further guidance.

“Red tide occurrences in the Gulf of Mexico have been documented for centuries, but blooms can be aggravated by excess nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus,” the county’s statement said. “Residents are reminded that fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorus cannot be used or sold until September 30, and that phosphorus cannot be used at any time of the year, unless a Soil test only confirms it is necessary.”

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