ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Pinellas County leaders have now picked up 791 tons of dead fish and debris. That’s equivalent to the weight of 565 cars. Leaders in St. Petersburg are so overwhelmed with cleanup efforts, they’re now asking residents to lend a hand.
St. Pete leaders aren’t able to step onto private property, private docks, or seawalls, and they’re asking those who live on the water to join in on cleanup efforts. Some boat owners have also joined in equipped with nets and rakes to haul in dead fish.
Marty O’Connor lives in Tierra Verde, where thousands of fish litter the canal behind his home.
“It’s really sad. It’s very depressing every morning to come down here and see more and more fish,” he explained.
Contractors with the company DRC, which was hired by Pinellas County to help with cleanup efforts, are working hard to clean up the mess. Yet, O’Connor said as soon as they haul in one load, thousands more wash in.
“It is a gut punch because every evening when the tide shifts most of these fish will exit from the canal and then you wake up in the morning and the tide has shifted back and here they all are back again and the smell has returned,” he added.
St. Pete leaders are now urging anyone who can, to help with cleanup. There are nearly a dozen dumpsters now placed in Pinellas County that residents can use specifically for red tide debris. You can also scoop them up and put them into your regular trash bin.
St. Petersburg resident Thomas Cooper is doing his part. He spent hours Thursday scooping up dead fish from the seawall in St. Pete’s Coffee Pot Park.
“I wanted to help because I like to see St. Pete looking better than it is,” he said moments before netting a large dead stingray.
At O’Connor’s Tierra Verde home, contractors visited to clean up for a sixth time on Thursday. O’Connor hopes it serves as a wake-up call to state and local leaders to invest in red tide prevention.
“I just hope they can do it and do it soon so that it doesn’t get so out of control,” he added.
Here are the “dead fish only” dumpster locations:
- Crisp Park
- Flora Wylie Park
- Lassing Park
- Demen’s Landing Park
- Grande View Park
- Bay Vista Park
- Maximo Park
- John’s Pass Parking Lot - Northwest Corner
- Corey Avenue at the Blue Parrot
- Fort DeSoto Boat Ramp
- Coffee Pot Park