A red tide bloom is causing devastation in the Tampa Bay area. More than 1 million pounds of dead sea life have been collected.
Some parts of Tampa Bay tested 10 to 17 times higher than what are considered high levels of the organism in red tide. There are warnings to stay away from beaches in that area.
“It’s absolutely devastating,” said Lisa Krimsky, the regional water resources extension agent with University of Florida. “It doesn’t matter who you are, whether you’re a resident or visitor, scientist. It’s … devastating to see, even in Florida, when we’re used to red tide and events like this, it’s hard to see it happen.”
There are also concerns red tide will move south, but there is nothing that can be done about the potential for it to move south toward Southwest Florida.
There were low to medium concentrations of red tide off the coast of the Port Charlotte area in the latest red tide map Wednesday.
The movement of red tide in Tampa Bay all depends on the currents and the wind, and can change at any time
Krimsky knows red tide but was shocked by the number of fish that have been seen washed up in Pinellas County.
“It just definitely seems as if, especially early in the season, that this is an unusual event,” Krimsky said.
Florida U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist (Fla-D) feels the same.
“I drove down from St. Petersburg this morning,” Crist said. “I’ve never seen red tide and fish kill like that in my life, and I’ve lived there since 1960, and it’s just gotten worse.”
Southwest Florida isn’t far from all these dead fish. We asked Krimsky if the conditions up north could move down south to Southwest Florida.
“It’s an impossible to predict because red tide does move with winds and currents at this point,” Krimsky said. “At this point, they’re not predicted to move south. They’re predicted at least in the, you know, coastal regions to move a little bit offshore within Tampa Bay to retain within the bay. So there’s no southward movement right now. But again, that’s within the next three days. It is impossible to know what is going to happen further out.”
The good news is we are not going to see something like this in our Gulf shore beaches at this time.