Red tide impacts Pinellas County


Eve Murdick

Red Tide is still affecting the St. Petersburg waters. Learn how to stay safe and take certain precautionary measures while still enjoying the beaches.

A common cultural participation in the Tampa and St. Petersburg area is going to beaches. Red tide is when algae are growing rapidly until it is out of control, producing toxins commonly harmful to sea life and even humans.  

The algae that result in red tide is often caused by runoff from farming, factories, or sewage treatment plants that easily dissolve in water, according to National Geographic.   

The red tide currently affecting the Pinellas County waters is believed to be caused by the Piney Point Disaster. A pond that contained wastewater leaked. The plastic liner of the pond tore, resulting in thousands of gallons of polluted water going into the sediment beneath.  

“But this year, scientists say, the Red Tide is almost certainly finding more fuel because of a singular manmade catastrophe,” the Tampa Bay Times said. “More than 200 million gallons of polluted water was dumped into the bay between late March and early April off the grounds of the old Piney Point fertilizer plant in Manatee County.”  

Although it is still safe to visit beaches and swim, there are still many precautionary measures that need to be taken to ensure full safety. Initially, research the beach in Pinellas you are going to; some beaches are at higher risk than others.  

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said, “Call 866-300-9399 at any time from anywhere in Florida to hear a recording about red tide conditions throughout the state. Callers outside of Florida can dial 727-502-4952. Standard calling charges apply.”  

When going into the beach waters, it is important to avoid sea life caucuses, especially fish. These organisms are likely deceased due to red tide and therefore carry harmful bacteria.  

“Experts also say that beachgoers should wear shoes to prevent being cut by fish bones,” ABC News said. “People should also avoid coming into contact with dying or dead marine life as the toxin is already present in their bodies.”  

Some individuals may be more sensitive to the red tide and its bacteria. More specifically, those with respiratory issues or conditions. Symptoms of being affected by the tide are respiration irritation and watery eyes. The Florida Department of Health recommends that those who have chronic respiratory issues avoid exposure to red tide toxins.  

“Some people may experience respiratory irritation (coughing, sneezing, and tearing) when the red tide organism is present along a coast and winds blow aerosolized toxins onshore. People with severe or chronic respiratory conditions (such as emphysema or asthma) are advised to avoid red tide areas. Generally, symptoms are temporary and disappear within hours.”  

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Mote both advise that outdoor pets not be brought to beaches.  The symptoms of red tide in pets are more extent and severe than those in humans.  

“Red tide exposure can result in neurological and digestive symptoms that include tremors, seizures, stumbling, paralysis, vomiting, diarrhea, and drooling,” Northeast Animal Hospital said. “Your dog may also experience low heart rate and low blood pressure.”