Pinellas County braces for red tide

Thousands and thousands of dead fish litter the beaches from Longboat Key south.

Mounds of them float on the surface with more off in the distance.

Now there's growing concern that red tide could move north into Pinellas County waters and owners of coastal businesses are worried.

Everyone’s hoping it just goes away but scientists say that’s unlikely. Red tide is highly concentrated along Sarasota beaches and, if winds push it north, Pinellas County may be next.

“Red tide is not good, it’s not good for tourism, it’s not good for our fishery,” fisherman and business owner Dylan Hubbard said. “I get probably between five to 10 emails a day and probably closer to 20 phone calls a day asking about red tide and if red tide is affecting our area.”

For now, it’s not. However, FWC has found traces of red tide in waters off Pinellas County.

It’s not enough for a bloom but that could change if but if concentration levels get any higher.

“We have cells now off of Pinellas County,” said USF scientist Robert Weisberg.  “It’s coming here right now.”

He says the microscopic algae is usually tamped down by other organisms but, under the right conditions, it blooms and becomes an unstoppable force.

Weisberg says this season is significantly bad because of residual red tide from last year and new red tide moving in from off shore.

“So those two things together can lead to quite a significant bloom even here off of Pinellas County,” he said.

Businesses that rely on healthy waters worry about the possibility of hard times.

“Almost everything we do here inside John’s Pass at Hubbard’s Marina is totally dependent on the health of our local resource and our waterways,” Hubbard said.

For now, they wait, hoping red tide stays away.

Continuing coverage:

-Demonstrators at Gov. Scott event want action on red tide

-Red tide blamed for deaths as manatees, goliath grouper wash ashore

-Red tide blooms early along southern Bay Area beaches

-Manatee, paralyzed by red tide, rescued in Charlotte Co.

-Red tide creeps north, reaching Longboat Key

-Dead wildlife needs to be reported, or it can worsen red tide, FWC says

-Spike in sea turtle deaths linked to red tide

-Drones used to track red tide along Florida coast


-More videos show dead manatees off Southwest Florida

-Mote scientists track ongoing red tide bloom

-Red tide causing respiratory concerns along Sarasota County beaches