FWC, DEP set up office in St. Petersburg to monitor red tide

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Department of Environmental Protection are working to provide real-time updates on the status of red tide around Tampa Bay's waterways.

"We have people up in the air right now, we have people on boats right now collecting samples," said Eric Sutton, the executive director of FWC.

They're giving predictions of where the red tide bloom might appear and helping residents and business owners prepare for impacts.

"This week, we are seeing some signs of it dissipating in the bay. We are not out of the woods, I want to make that clear, but we are seeing blooms off of the coast," Sutton continued.

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Sutton and the interim secretary of the DEP, Shawn Hamilton, have set up an office in St. Petersburg until the bloom goes away.

"It's important for folks to understand that, from the state's perspective and from the direction we’ve been given from the governor, is to make sure every agency is on board and coordinating to make sure we provide the most effective response we can," said Hamilton.

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They've been on the water, in labs, and spent Tuesday meeting with St. Petersburg city leaders. They're looking at red tide's impact on the area and what's being done.

Sutton and Hamilton said whatever help is needed, they will provide it.

"We will put whatever assets we can to help. There’s only so much help we can do, but we want to provide a service to our citizens particularly in providing information," said Sutton.

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Looking to the future, Sutton said following the Tampa Bay Estuary's program is key. Created in 1991, it has been dedicated to cleaning up and restoring Tampa Bay for decades.

"The bay is resilient because of the efforts of so many partners and entities and scientists, Tampa Bay is a very resilient system. While it may look bleak in the immediate future, I think it’s really important for us to all have hope and we all have a model of working together that has worked before," said Sutton.

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