ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. -- A disappointing Saturday on many Pinellas County beaches as countless dead fish washed ashore.

  • Dead fish cover the shores of St. Pete Beach
  • Beachgoers described overpowering stench
  • Experts say those with breathing issues should avoid red tide areas

"I'm just at a loss for words, I have never seen St. Pete Beach like this," Jasmine La Grant said.

"It's just upsetting, very upsetting," added Jada Middlebrooks, La Grant's cousin.

The two have more than a dozen members of their family visiting from Arkansas. They decided to spend the day at St. Pete Beach, not realizing it would mean a harsh encounter with red tide.

"This is a lot of their first times at the beach, so it's kind of heartbreaking for them," La Grant said.

On Saturday afternoon, many beachgoers described the stench as overpowering, and said they could smell it all the way back to Gulf Boulevard.

"As soon as we opened the door we could smell it," Ruskin resident Matthew Panchuk said.

Cleanup crews worked their way up and down St. Pete Beach but had trouble keeping up with the growing number of fish. The effects of red tide were felt as far north as Clearwater Beach.

Medical experts say it is important to avoid red tide affected areas if you have issues with breathing or a compromised immune system.