Lingering Red Tide bloom moves north, killing fish near mouth of Tampa Bay
ANNA MARIA ISLAND — A Red Tide algae bloom that has already been called the worst in a decade spread north over the weekend, reaching this Manatee County community near the mouth of Tampa Bay.
On Monday, clumps of dead fish floated amid the mangroves lining the approach to the Cortez Road bridge to Anna Maria Island, southeast of Egmont Key. Meanwhile at Holmes Beach, another community on Anna Maria, the police appealed via Facebook for volunteers to help them clean up the dead sea life that was washing ashore, offering to provide "masks, gloves and a trash grabber ... to anyone who would like to help."
No one knows for sure when, or if, the bloom will reach Pinellas County’s famous beaches. The latest forecast from University of South Florida scientists appears to show the bloom moving north over the next four days — but also shows it being pushed back out to sea by wind and currents.
A blue-green algae bloom that has been plaguing Lake Okeechobee and the rivers on either side of it has made national news and become an issue in the state’s political races. But in the meantime, a lingering Red Tide outbreak along about 120 miles of the gulf coast has also been taking a a growing toll on both the state’s environment and its tourism economy.
The Red Tide bloom began back in November, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute spokeswoman Michelle Kerr. By hitting the nine-month mark, it’s now the longest Red Tide outbreak in a decade, she said. The longest one on record lasted 17 months between 2004 and 2006, she said.