City officials said the cleanup began after a wave of dead fish arrived near the coast days ago. They've been spotted in mangroves, near the shoreline, and out in the bay. Officials said Tropical Storm Elsa made it worse.
"We’ve collected 15 tons of fish in those 10 days and nine tons of those fish have been picked up in the last 24 hours," said Amber Boulding, St. Pete’s emergency manager. "We’ve been dealing with red tide. Tropical Storm Elsa came and really exacerbated that issue and pushed even more fish in."
Officials said 15 tons is equivalent to 25,000 fish. Nine tons is about 15,000 fish.
Boulding said the problem is widespread and the work is tedious, forcing the city to recruit more than 120 staff members from other departments besides public works to assist in the cleanup. They are also exploring options to bring in outside contractors to help.
SkyFOX captured these aerials of dead fish near North Shore in St. Petersburg on July 9, 2021.
Because multiple city workers are away from their day jobs, some other non-essential services have been delayed, such as mowing, tree trimming, and pothole repairs.
"We’re out there, we’re scraping and netting fish but the best way to let us know where those kills are and where the big piles of fish are is to let us know," Boulding said.
The white spots in the canals of Snell Isle are all dead fish.
Most assume the problem is red tide, possibly exacerbated by Elsa. Red tide counts are high in St. Petersburg waters, but it'll take additional testing from the FWC to determine Elsa's impact.
"Right now it doesn't look good out there, but that’s totally anecdotal, non-count scientific data," offered Dr. Jim Ivey, an environmental science professor with USF St. Petersburg.
LINK: For the latest on red tide visit: https://myfwc.com/research/redtide/statewide/
Residents and visitors can submit details where dead fish sightings in the following ways:
- Visiting seeclickfix.com/st-petersburg
- Call the Mayor’s Action Center at 727-893-7111