17 tons of dead fish cleared from Florida beaches

Ripon Bulletin - - Nation -

ST. PETERS­BURG, Fla. (AP) — One Florida county has dumped more than 17 tons (15,420 kilo­grams) of dead fish col­lected since red tide al­gae crept up from South Florida into Tampa Bay.

Fish are dy­ing off at such a rate that of­fi­cials are seek­ing more com­mer­cial ves­sels to sift dead sea life from the Gulf of Mex­ico and haul it to a land­fill.

On­shore in Pinel­las County, many beach busi­nesses say they aren’t see­ing dead fish and that tourists are get­ting spooked away de­spite clear wa­ters. The last red tide re­port out of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Com­mis­sion on Fri­day said the bloom was still ac­tive in South­west Florida and ex­tended from Pinel­las south to north­ern Col­lier County, a stretch of about 120 miles (193 kilo­me­ters) of coast­line.

The lack of dead fish along the shore is at least partly be­cause the county has been pay­ing boat cap­tains to cap­ture the car­casses be­fore they reach the shore­line, the Tampa Bay Times re­ported.

“This is mas­sive,” said Kelli Levy, Pinel­las’ di­rec­tor of en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment. “We are ramp­ing up.”

From Fri­day through Mon­day morn­ing, the county land­fill re­ceived 17.35 tons (15,740 kilo­grams) of dead fish, Levy said.

Cur­rently, two shrimp boats and three other pieces of com­mer­cial equip­ment are be­ing used to col­lect the fish. But it is not enough. Con­trac­tors are be­ing asked to bring in more equip­ment, in­clud­ing large beach rakes.

The rust-col­ored bloom could be seen from the air off Red­ing­ton and Madeira beaches on Mon­day af­ter­noon.

Curt Preisser, the Madeira Beach city spokesman, said the town was pre­pared for the bloom to spread.

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