Red tide has hit the Tampa bay area like a freight train. The beaches are full of dead fish and sea life. This is the worse red tide episode that anyone can remember. We’ve had it bad twice since we’ve lived here, back in 2005 and 2018. The smell can be really bad so we stay away from the beaches as most locals do. The beaches near the hotels get cleaned up daily during this time in hopes that the tourists can get out on the beaches. So far the area has picked up over 3 million pounds of dead sea life. These pictures were taken on 2 separate trips to a small beach near downtown St. Pete. The first trip was in early July and had just spotty fish on the beach. The 2nd trip was later in mid-July and they had raked the beach the day before but it was already getting full of fish.
This is nothing compared to what the news is showing. This year it’s not just dead bait fish. It’s also dolphins, manatees, stingrays, goliath groupers and the birds get sick if they eat the dead fish. The seabird rescues are full of sick birds.
Red tide is an algae bloom that is a natural phenomenon with records dating back to the 1800’s but both pollution and climate change appear to be making them worse. My dad had pictures of the dead fish when it happened back in the early 50’s. After leaks were detected this spring from a major wastewater reservoir at Piney Point, south of Tampa, people think that’s what is making this year’s red tide so much worse.
This little beach is usually packed with people on a Saturday morning. The winds were blowing from the west, towards the bay so the smell wasn’t bad but there were few people hanging around. The water looked dark and icky so there won’t be anyone swimming in that for a while.
Florida Fish and Wildlife keep a chart that is updated daily. This was the most recent one. Luckily we live up in the north Tampa channels where the gray circles are and it hasn’t hit us. At least not yet.