St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin announced Thursday afternoon the city has collected more than 10,000 dead fish along the shoreline and waterways in the past week — that’s six tons.
“This cleanup impacts our level of service in other areas, but we recognize the importance,” Tomalin wrote in a tweet. “As fish continue to wash up, we’ll continue our efforts.”
Our @StPeteFL crews have collected more than 10,000 dead fish (6 tons) along our shorelines and waterways in the past week. This cleanup impacts our level of service in other areas, but we recognize the importance. As fish continue to wash up, we'll continue our efforts.
— Dr. Kanika Tomalin (@StPeteTomalin) July 8, 2021
The cleanup comes as red tide ravages areas of the Pinellas County coast — the most recent status update provided by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission showed that Pinellas County had the highest concentrations of the algae that causes red tide in the state, with high levels around St. Pete’s coastal area.
The status update also details reports of fish kills in the waterways of Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties, as well as potential respiratory irritation caused by the algae bloom in Pinellas and Sarasota counties.
It remains unclear if Tropical Storm Elsa helped or hindered this year’s red tide bloom, according to the Tampa Bay Times. But, it did seem to move dead fish closer to shorelines.
In efforts to address the red tide, Gov. Ron DeSantis visited St. Pete in mid-June to meet with a handful of state environmental leaders to discuss the latest developments in red tide research.
The panelists overwhelmingly praised DeSantis’ efforts in red tide research and funding, as well as the Governor’s move to reinstate the Red Tide Task Force in 2019 after being inactive for more than a decade. Since 2019, the state has dedicated more than $14.5 million to the Center for Red Tide Research at FWC.
Researchers made clear they are still working to improve technology designed to deter and detect red tide.
The impact of the Piney Point leak briefly wedged its way into the discussion. Tom Frazer, dean of the University of South Florida College of Marine Science, said that while Piney Point likely did not cause the current bloom, it could have exacerbated it.