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Tons of dead fish from red tide are being removed from Gulf beaches before spring breakers arrive

Dead fish litter the shore from the last red tide outbreak in 2022.
Conor Goulding
Mote Marine Laboratory
Dead fish litter the shore from the last red tide outbreak in 2022

Tons of marine life have been killed by red tide as the bloom moves north and is now in Pasco County.

A red tidebloom that has been moving north in the Gulf of Mexico is causing massive fish kills along the area's beaches — just as spring break approaches.

In the past two weeks, 3 1/2 tons of of dead fish and marine life was collected in Manatee County alone. And in Pinellas, half a ton was removed from beaches in three days.

Red tide is now being reported the off Pasco County coast.

Conditions have improved the past couple of days, says Tony Fabrizio, a spokesman for Pinellas County. But anyone heading out to the water should check a red tide reportbefore choosing a beach.

"Red tide conditions change daily, based on the currents and the winds. When we have onshore winds, it's a little bit worse," Fabrizio said. "So this is just something we need to continue to monitor until this bloom dissipates."

Map of red tide
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Map of red tide

Though Sarasota County has been beset by red tide for months, county workers have not been asked to clean up dead fish. The city of Sarasota will begin picking up dead fish from private property twice a week.

Here's a news release from the city:

Residents are asked to double-bag the marine debris collected and contact the Solid Waste Division in advance for a special courtesy pickup on a Wednesday or Saturday. Please call 941-263-6170 to make arrangements.

Ceres Environmental Services Inc., a debris management company on standby with the City, will soon remove dead fish and other marine debris from the following City parks and rights-of-way:

  • Bayfront Park/O’Leary’s
  • Bird Key Park
  • Centennial Park/10th St. Boat Ramp
  • Ernest “Doc” and Eloise Werlin Park
  • Hart’s Landing
  • Indian Beach Park
  • Ken Thompson (boat ramp, fishing piers, playground area)
  • New Pass
  • Nora Patterson Bay Island Park North Park
  • Sapphire Shores Park
  • Tony Saprito Fishing Pier
  • Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall      
  • Whitaker Gateway Park

Crews will remove the debris by hand along the shoreline and by boat in some waterways.

Lido Beach is maintained by Sarasota County with weekly raking and additional service based on the County’s beach cleaning policy.

For red tide updates in Sarasota County, please visit www.scgov.net/redtide.

Map of red tide outbreaks
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Map of red tide outbreaks

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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