First Lady Casey DeSantis and two of her children — Madison and Mason — joined the fight Wednesday against red tide.
The trio released more than 20,000 red fish in Wakulla County early Wednesday alongside others, including Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Shawn Hamilton.
The release is part of a larger effort to combat red tide and replenish the supply of redfish.
“Today’s event is important as the community works to restock the redfish population that has been impacted by red tide,” DeSantis said. “I’ve heard from many throughout Florida who understand that our water must be safe for our families, visitors and economy. That is why the Governor has made the protection of Florida’s water resources a top priority, dedicating record funding towards water restoration initiatives.”
Raised and supplied by Duke Energy Mariculture Center in Crystal River, roughly 20,000 juvenile fish — ranging from four to eight inches — and 500 sub-adult redfish were released.
The effort is a multiyear process that will involve the release of 100,000 redfish fingerlings and spotted seatrout along Florida’s west coast.
“This is a great day to celebrate not only the release of these 20,000-plus new redfish, but also this partnership between the public and private sectors,” Hamilton said.
Notably, the current red tide outbreak is considered worse than the massive 2018 outbreak on the state’s coast. Over the summer, the city of St. Petersburg reported removing six tons of dead fish from the shorelines in a cleanup effort. Manatees are also among the victims of the outbreak.
Among other moves, Gov. DeSantis has called for more research on red tide and its impacts.
“The Duke Energy Mariculture Center delivers on the company’s commitment to help protect and preserve Florida’s natural resources,” said Duke Energy Florida President Melissa Seixas. “Collaborating with state and local agencies, universities and nonprofit organizations on restoration projects helps the vitality of the communities we serve. The redfish we’re donating will have long-term positive environmental and economic impacts in affected areas.”
The DeSantis administration is also seeking funds to address manatee deaths.