Pinellas and red tide: Plan for worst, hope for best

Residents and business owners on the Pinellas County beaches are hoping an area of highly-concentrated red tide does not make it to shore.

“It would be devastating,” said Matt Loder, CEO of Crabby Bill’s Seafood on Indian Rocks Beach. “Even just the perception of red tide in the news can hurt us.”

State scientists reported red tide about 10 miles off the Pinellas beaches Wednesday.  

Today, business owners and local leaders were with Congressman Charlie Crist, inspecting a stretch of newly-renourished and widened beach at Indian Rocks, but they were also talking about preparations should the bloom drift onto beaches.

“We have a plan to actively remove material before it even gets to the beach, handle it if it gets here, and deal with it in the canals if we have to,” said Kelli Levy, director of Pinellas County Environmental Management. 

Levy says a contractor is on standby to respond quickly should the bloom drift in. 

“We’re very hopeful,” said Indian Rocks Beach mayor Cookie Kennedy. “I think that we’re going to be OK with it. And everyone is ready because we’ve had to deal with this in the past.”

It’s been more than 10 years since a major red tide bloom struck Pinellas County. In 2005, a red tide bloom caused a “dead zone” off Clearwater, killing sea life from the bottom to the surface.

LINK: Full FOX 13 red tide coverage