More than three tons of dead fish have washed up on Southwest Florida beaches over the past two weeks, and residents’ eyes are burning.
They are also reporting respiratory problems as a red tide that began in October and flared again this week dragged on, with no sign of abating anytime soon.
The toxic algae bloom from the red tide even prompted a homeowners association to cancel its annual “BeachFest” for next month after the city and Pinellas County Health Department said the red tide would still be in play. .
“Red Tide is currently present on the beach and is forecast to remain in the area for the next few weeks,” the Indian Rocks Beach HOA said in a letter to the public. “It is unfortunate that it had to be cancelled, but it is the best decision in the interest of public health.”
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said it had found the organism Karenia brevis, which causes red tide, in 157 samples taken along the state’s Gulf coast.
Carmine DeMilio, who is leading red tide cleanup efforts as operations manager for Manatee County parks, told the Bradenton Herald that “started to get intense” about two weeks ago. His staff have collected about 3.5 tons of dead fish since then, combing the sand with beach rake tractors and scooping dead fish out of the water with skimmer boats.
“We started at 5 in the morning and continued until around 11:30,” DeMilio told the Bradenton Herald. “At that moment, the bathers are on the beach and it is difficult to maneuver.”
with cable news services