Red tide brings fish kill, coughing to Pinellas

Posted at 5:06 PM, Apr 11, 2016

Southerly winds blew the toxins of an algae bloom in the Gulf of Mexico right into the faces of beachgoers in Pass-a-Grille this weekend.

The bloom was in a "high concentration" off the Pinellas County coast this weekend, according to Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. People on vacation in Pass-a-Grille tell ABC Action News they were especially affected on Friday and Saturday when the winds directed the irritating toxins their way.

"We started coughing and our landlord said, 'Oh, it's red tide,'" said Karen Simpson of her experience getting to Pass-a-Grille on Saturday. "She said, 'Keep your mouth shut and you won't breath in the fumes.'"

The micro-organism that blooms in the Gulf is known to release a toxin that can kill fish life and cause respiratory irritation for people who breathe it in.

This particular bloom is rather far off the coast, and the FWC says it appears to be moving even further away. Biologists with FWC were seen recently at Pass-a-Grille testing the water.

"We just actually took a walk up to the Don Cesar," said Drew Doty, vacationing from Maryland. "There was about 50 dead fish along the beach just alone from here to there."
"There was just like echoing down the beach of coughs," said Doty, who stayed on the beach despite the red tide.
"We had a little bit of a respiratory situation," said Larry Streib to ABC Action News on Monday. Streib owns the Brass Monkey restaurant, where people escaped to when the beach was too irritating.
"We haven't had that in about 10 years. That was the first instance we actually had some people coughing and stuff like that," Streib said.
Lower concentrations of red tide were also detected in Manatee and Sarasota counties, FWC said.