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Pinellas County scales back red tide cleanup

Offshore winds helping lessen red tide impact
Posted at 6:45 PM, Sep 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-24 18:47:45-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Pinellas County is scaling back red tide cleanup. Drastic improvements on the beaches and in the Intracoastal Monday and over the weekend mean fewer crews and equipment are needed as the county battles the toxic algae bloom. 

Monday there were only a few fish found along miles of shoreline, delighting Madeira Beach visitor Lisa Sebastia. “I was just extremely happy to see it like this,” she exclaimed. 

After driving an hour and a half from Winter Haven, she wasn’t sure what she’d find at the beach, but much to her surprise, “it’s a perfect day for the beach!"

For the first time in two weeks, employees at Gator’s Cafe on John’s Pass opening the garage door windows on their first floor bar area.

“They come to be in the sun, drink their margaritas and beer and listen to live music so for us to give them that outdoor space is a huge win for us!” explained employee Mindy Doyle.

County leaders are still cautiously optimistic knowing the red tide bloom lingers just 10 miles offshore.

“I’m crossing all my fingers and my toes,” county leader Kelli Hammer-Levy said with a chuckle.

Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Pete isn’t taking any chances. Sari Deitche and fellow school leaders recently came up with a new plan to install a silk construction fence as a boom to keep their basin free of dead fish. 

“We weren't sure if it would work, so when it did, we were very happy. For us, it was a great think outside the box moment," Deitche added.

Now, Pinellas County is looking into a similar idea to keep fish out of the Intracoastal by adding booms to the North and South channels near John’s Pass. The booms, if approved by the coast guard would be lit up at night. The county would leave the middle of the channel open for boat traffic.

FWC projections show the helpful offshore winds that are lessening the impacts of red tide sticking around through the first half of the week.