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Crews set up to help with red tide cleanup at Pinellas County beaches

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Posted at 5:51 PM, Jun 16, 2021

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Crews were out at the beaches in Pinellas County on Wednesday, cleaning up dead fish from red tide.

It was day one for contractors at the beaches, who set up equipment at John’s Pass and will work with the county on red tide cleanup.

“You’re dealing with Mother Nature, so whatever she throws at us, we’ll be ready to handle,” said Jay Gunter, a Regional Manager with DRC Emergency Services, which is contracted by Pinellas County.

With red tide persisting, Pinellas County initiated the cleanup of dead marine life from the county’s beaches. The county says satellite imagery shows a patchy bloom of red tide off the Pinellas County coast, explaining that forecasting models show it moving north for the next seven to ten days.

RECOMMENDED: Planning a beach day? Here's how to check if red tide has been reported

“Those are beach rakes there. They’re top of the line. They really can move fast and sweep up very quickly. So they’re here, and we’re able to run them if we need them,” said Gunter. “Today, we’re seeing the onesie, twosie fish here and there, so we’re picking them up by hands, and we’ll do whatever is needed.”

The county is assisting municipalities, who are doing their own cleanup, with a contractor ready to help. On Wednesday, crews picked up fish as needed. County officials explain they’re seeing a fair amount of dead fish because they’ve had persistent west winds that blow everything onto the shore.

The contractor is able to scale up or down as needed. Even when red tide is present off the Pinellas County coast, county officials explain it is not necessarily present at all beaches.

Gunter explained what they want people visiting the beach to know.

“We are out here to try and make their stay and their visit just as pleasant as we can,” said Gunter. “We obviously can’t control Mother Nature, but we can do our best to deal with the situation out here, and we will have the beaches clean every day.”

People can check beach conditions before they head out the door, as well as through the Red Tide Respiratory Forecast tool.