ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. — The red tide bloom is impacting fewer beaches this week in Pinellas County.
- Experts optimistic that bloom is on its way out
- Red tide conditions plagued several beaches this summer
- LINK: Check red tide in Pinellas County
- MORE: Red tide stories, video, links
On Monday, Fort De Soto was the only beach to have dead fish wash ashore.
The Gulf has been impacted by red tide for more than a year. A bloom off Pinellas County's coast was new this summer and joined the existing bloom from 2017.
Experts are optimistic the bloom could be on its way out. And so are beachgoers.
"The weather is beautiful, the sand is clean and the air smells great," resident Tom McKenzie said Monday at St. Pete Beach.
Red tide expert and University of South Florida professor Robert Weisberg said it's too early to tell if the relief is too good to be true.
"I am optimistic that it may go away, but without the observations offshore, we really don't know what's going to happen," he said.
This was the view in Gulfport in mid-October.
Weisberg said the water circulation could be favorable to push in clean water and push out the algae.
"The circulation is such that we are exporting cells away from here, and if we don’t have the import of new cells to make up for what we’re losing, then this red tide may go away," he said. "And I'm hoping that’s what will happen."
That will only work if new blooms aren’t moving in. Weisberg says what's needed now more than ever is more funding for research.
"We need to make observations throughout the year even when it’s not there, because we have to know what the background levels are," he said. "We have to know the whole history of this organism in order to better predict and possibly mitigate it."
For now, a clean day at the beach is enough for many.
"We've got family that just came down and I can say, 'Look at our beaches, look at how beautiful they are.' I'm proud again."
Weisberg is hoping to deploy what's called a glider this week that measures if new blooms are forming offshore and where they could be headed.