ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Officials in Pinellas County are ramping up efforts to test for red tide.
- RELATED: About 50 volunteers Wednesday on Palma Sola Causeway
- NEW SECTION: Red tide stories, maps, links, FAQs
Environmental specialists have been out almost daily collecting samples at several different locations across the county.
Even though levels in Pinellas County are still relatively low, the red tide threat has many visitors worried. Before his plane even touched down, Treasure Island visitor Steve Shannon noticed something awful.
"I could see it when I flew in actually, the tide over the water to the south of Tampa Bay," Shannon said.
Shannon has been coming to the Bay area for decades and said he's heartbroken to see the devastating effects of red tide.
RESULTS OF THIS WEEK'S TESTING
- Ft. De Soto Gulf Pier – Low
- Ft. De Soto Ferry Pier on the Tampa Bay side – Medium (lower end of the range)
- John’s Pass – Not Present
- Gulfport – Background
- Redington Beach (La Contessa Pier) – Very Low
- Indian Shores – Very Low
"My major concern is the recovery period for the wildlife, the sea turtles, snook, red fish, trout, everything that goes in shore will be dramatically affected by this," Shannon said.
Robin Barnes is an environmental specialist with Pinellas County who spends four days a week taking water samples from eight different locations across the county.
"I put that down in the water three times and fill the bucket up three times, swirl it around, fill the vial up with water and put it on ice," Barnes said.
The vials are taken to a lab and tested for the organism that causes red tide. While there's no controlling what starts or stops it, Barnes said the localized testing efforts will help inform the public faster.
"It's awful, I wish there was something that could be done to clean it up like that. But there's no quick fix for any of it, but hopefully it will dissipate eventually and at least give them a break before it inevitably comes back," Barnes said.
County officials said dead fish were observed at Pass-A-Grille, Redington Beach, and Ft. De Soto Wednesday morning. The condition of the fish indicate they have been dead for some time and are likely floating in with the tides.