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Red Tide concentrations grow stronger in Pinellas but so far fish kills are from far offshore

ST. PETERSBURG —- For the first time during the current bloom, state biologists have detected higher concentrations of Red Tide algae near a Pinellas County beach.

But the dead fish that washed up recently appear to be from a bloom far offshore, Kelly Richmond of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg said Wednesday.

Meanwhile the latest prediction from the University of South Florida College of Marine Sciences, released late Wednesday, shows the bloom moving southward again. If it proves true, that would mean Pinellas County’s beaches could remain unsullied by Red Tide for a while longer.

The state’s fish-kill hotline recently received several calls about dead fish on Pinellas beaches, Richmond said. That prompted biologists to go take water samples at Madeira Beach, Indian Shores, Sand Key, John’s Pass, Pass-A-Grille Beach, Sunset Beach and Treasure Island.

In all but one case, they found exactly what they had been finding in previous weeks: either no sign of the Red Tide algae at all, or only background to low concentrations of it, not enough to cause a problem.

But in the water just north of Madeira Beach they found something new. The concentration of algae in the water there was large enough to qualify for the "medium" classification, Richmond said.