How Tampa Bay could become a 'dead zone' for marine plants and animals

If the red tide that's plaguing Tampa Bay and causing massive fish kills does not clear up soon, experts fear Tampa Bay could become what's known as a dead zone.

That's what happens when there is so little oxygen in the water, nothing can survive. 

Ray Perkins, co-owner of the fertilizer additive company Eco World Research and Development Group, believes that's happening as we speak.

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"I'm starting to see a lot of grouper, Goliath grouper, coming up, a lot of the bottom fish," said Perkins. "I'm looking at the nutrient levels that have not stabilized. I'm looking at, the oxygen levels not stabilized. So there are a lot of telltale signs that we're headed towards limited...dead zones."

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Perkins has 25 years of expertise in studying how phosphate, fertilizer and soil nutrients impact algae blooms, like the one causing the fish kill in Tampa Bay. 

Perkins believes the wastewater leak at the old Piney Point phosphate plant, which sits on the edge of the bay, exacerbated the situation.

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Perkins likened it to how a fire can spread.

"It's like having a small fire at a campfire and then throwing an accelerant on it and putting it in the forest. The nutrient levels have become so high that it's feeding this and just put it on steroids," he said.

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Perkins thinks if the algae bloom doesn't clear up soon and the dead sea animals are not cleared out, part of the bay could have a dead zone by October.

"When you get no life, it's a longer process of coming back," he warned.