Red tide at the beach: See the latest conditions

by 24USATVJuly 19, 2021, 4 a.m. 18
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Most Gulf of Mexico beach locations were reporting low to medium levels of red tide Sunday morning.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — With this beautiful summertime weather, it's hard not to want to go to the beach.

But once you get out there, red tide could ruin those plans. The organism that causes red tide, Karenia brevis, has filled many Tampa Bay-area waterways with dead marine life and the smell that comes along with it.

Some locations are worse than others — Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater has a handy tool on its website detailing the latest red tide conditions.

The Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocen Observing System also has an experimental map you can use to zoom in and out on several beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. This predicts the risk of respiratory irritation given wind and ocean current forecasts.

At Pass-A-Grille, for example, the risk of irritation is very low through the early afternoon with winds out of the east-southeast. It ticks up to low-moderate later in the day with a west wind.

The consequences of high levels of red tide mean a greater die-off of marine life and severe respiratory irritation to anyone who visits the area. Pinellas County on Thursday reported at least 800 tons — about 1.6 million pounds — of dead sea life have been collected.

It added that some parts of Tampa Bay tested 10 to 17 times higher than what is considered "high" levels of the red tide organism.

Red tide clean-up efforts have spanned weeks in St. Petersburg, and dead fish still are washing ashore. People who live here say if it weren't for those clean-ups efforts, the downtown area would be unbearable.

"No, I would not come down here and run if they had not cleaned up," Jeff Waite said. "It was pretty bad."

Waite just moved back to St. Petersburg a few weeks ago. He said that shortly after he got settled, dead fish and other marine life were washing up everywhere.

"Before the red tide hit, it was amazing to run down here," he said. "Unfortunately, the red tide came down here. A lot of dead fish. I think the city has done an amazing job in a short amount of time."

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