FORT DESOTO, Fla. — Congressman Charlie Crist met with researchers and experts at the University of South Florida Monday to discuss the red tide bloom off the coast of Pinellas County.
- Surface area of bloom is four times size of Tampa Bay
- New red tide blooms, if they occurred, could prolong current one
- Tourists canceling vacations to area resorts due to red tide
The bloom is a few miles off shore. At this point, it's not impacting most Pinellas County beaches.
In addition, there have been minimal, if any, dead fish on the southern beaches and no respiratory issues reported.
However, the surface area of the bloom is four times the size of Tampa Bay, or one million acres. Every day, researchers are working to learn more about its path and concentration.
But as this current bloom is being studied, we're entering the time of year when red tide blooms can initiate off shore. There's no telling if another bloom will develop or when.
If one does develop, it could make the current bloom last longer.
“There’s new cells available to start a new bloom," said Dr. Jacqueline Dixon, Dean at the College of Marine Science at USF.
Even though the beaches and piers aren't being affected yet by the bloom, tourism is taking a big hit.
“Nobody wants to take a vacation and they’re the unlucky ones and that’s the weekend it starts," said Tony Satterfield, who manages Alden Suites Beach Resort.
Satterfield says guests have been canceling their vacations since the bloom began to spread to Pinellas County.
“It affects hotels and restaurants and other small business people," said Crist.
Crist says he plans to bring the information he heard today to Washington so he can work on getting more funding secured for NOAA. That would allow even more research to be done.