NewsPinellas County


Red tide cleanup scoops up thousands of dead fish near Honeymoon Island

Posted at 4:07 PM, Jun 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-17 23:23:38-04

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Jay Gunter says he's picked up garbage in one form or another all of his working life, and cleaning up thousands of dead fish is actually something he enjoys.

"I'm a Floridian. I love cleaning up my own state. Helping the county," said Gunter.

Gunter is a regional manager with DRC Emergency Services, which Pinellas County contracted to clean up during the 2018 red tide.

He says the algae bloom then was about a million acres and eight feet deep.

The bloom they are dealing with now is only 400 square yards.

It's been moving north and is now in the waters near Honeymoon Island.

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

In the meantime, boats are scooping up the fish and bringing them ashore, where a front loader drops them into a dumpster.


They filled up two dumpsters on Wednesday.

"The county and this area, we went through a lot in the last year in a half. The more we can do to keep this beach intact and keep it safe, keep you coming and make you want to be here, not just the visitors but the residents too," said Gunter.

Pinellas County's latest water sample testing shows low to moderate concentrations of the K-brevis bacteria, which causes red tide between St. Petersburgh and Honeymoon Island. High levels were found off Maderia Beach and in the Intracoastal.

"There are only two things that really kill it in my experience is breaking apart and lower water temperatures. So if one or both of those things occur, it's great," said Gunter.

Seaside Seabird Sanctuary, a non-profit in Indian Shores, said it rescued nearly 30 birds in the past 2 weeks. Birds become sick after feeding on contaminated food sources like dead or dying fish.


Birds suffering from brevetoxicosis often lose motor functions and the ability to fly. It can also lead to birds being unable to swallow or blink. Birds that survive the first 24 hours in the non-profit's care often make full recoveries.

The non-profit asks the public to report any birds showing signs of toxicity like being unable to walk, stand, or fly.

You may call 727-391-6211. Press option 1.

Experts from USF predict the bloom will continue to move north for the next four days.