Dead groupers appear along St. Pete coast as city experiences massive fish kill

Credit: Wendy Wesley

Two massive groupers washed up along the St. Pete coastline on Wednesday morning roughly five miles apart.

One goliath grouper was seen at Lassing Park in the Old Southeast neighborhood and north of downtown. Wendy Wesley captured images of the large fish along with a city worker capturing his own image.

Another was spotted at Crisp Park, further north. It weighed about 400 pounds and required a backhoe to be removed.

While the cause of the groupers' deaths are unclear, they occurred as dead fish continue to overwhelm St. Petersburg. 

For days, a massive red tide cleanup effort has been underway, forcing St. Pete officials to recruit crews from across different city departments. Daily, they have been trying to keep up and clear dead marine life along the coast.

Credit: Wendy Wesley

As of July 13, 614 tons of dead fish had been collected by Pinellas County, including 477 tons in St. Petersburg.

On Tuesday, SkyFOX captured images of miles and miles of dead fish and marine life littering Tampa Bay on both the Pinellas and Hillsborough sides. On Monday, a dead manta ray was spotted among the fish kill in Bahama Shores near the southern tip of St. Pete.

"Anywhere you look, from St. Pete to Tampa Bay, the channels, south Apollo Beach; it’s just floating dead fish," said fly fishing captain Dustin Pack. "Numerous amounts of fishing charter cancellations. So business is not good."

Residents and visitors in St. Pete can submit details on where dead fish sightings in the following ways:

• Visiting
• Call the Mayor’s Action Center at 727-893-7111

So far this year, manatee deaths have hit a record high within the first six months. From Jan. 1, 2021 to July 2, state wildlife officials recorded 841 deaths beating the total annual record of 830 in 2013.

Experts said the main reason is starvation due to the loss of seagrass beds. However, locally, 68 sea cows have died in the waters in the Tampa Bay region. According to the FWC, most of them have been due to boat strikes or red tide.

If you see a sick, injured, distressed, or dead manatee, you’re urged to call the FWC wildlife alert hotline by calling 888-404-FWCC (3922).