Water-Related News

How red tide is impacting Pinellas beaches

“This thing may linger,” one career red tide expert said.

Every coastal Southwest Florida county — from Pinellas south to Monroe — saw toxic red tide blooms over the past week as the patchy wave of algae nears its fifth month of life in Gulf of Mexico waters.

The stubborn red tide has left its mark on both wildlife and people: Tons of fish, from the mighty goliath grouper to the agile pinfish, were found dead on Gulf beaches since this weekend. Human respiratory issues such as coughing and sneezing have also been reported in all seven Southwest Florida counties, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

“We are getting a sloshing, back and forth, of whatever red tide organisms are out there right now,” said Bob Weisberg, the former director of the University of South Florida’s Ocean Circulation Lab. Recent onshore winds haven’t helped the problem.

“It could very well be that this thing may linger,” Weisberg said.

Pinellas County was behind only Sarasota County for the most red tide blooms detected in water samples over the past week, according to state wildlife data updated Wednesday afternoon.