Many people in the Tampa Bay area were hoping Tropical Storm Elsa would help clear out some the high concentrations of red tide that have been in the waterway for about a month, as well as the tons of fish it killed.
But almost a week later, it appears the storm didn’t help at all – and may even have done the opposite.
“It certainly doesn’t seem like, as we had all had our fingers crossed, that Tropical Storm Elsa helped the red tide situation. It certainly didn’t flush it out of Tampa Bay. It’s possible that in some areas, it did make it worse,” said Dr. Lisa Krimsky, a Regional Water Resources Extension Agent with the University of Florida IFAS (Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences) Extension.
She told CBS Tampa affiliate WTSP-TV there’s no official confirmation of Elsa’s exact impact yet.
“It’s very patchy within Tampa Bay,” added Krimsky, who underscored that red tide has a tendency to be concentrated in one area and nonexistent not too far away.
“Even though Tampa Bay is a hot spot right now, there are areas within Tampa Bay and along Pinellas and Hillsborough (counties) that really aren’t experiencing these high concentrations,” she said.
St. Petersburg has dispatched crews to start cleaning up dead fish.
Mayor Rick Kriseman said Monday the city and contractors had collected more than 110 tons of dead sea life so far.
“It’s hard, heartbreaking work,” Kriseman tweeted. “We are thankful for our county partners, and to each of you for your engagement and patience.”
Benjamin Kirby, a spokesperson with the mayor’s office, said it’s the worst red tide he’s seen in several years.
It’s possible that, over the next several days, some city services will be put on hold as crews prioritize the red tide crisis around the city.
One St. Petersburg resident told WTSP the vast amount of dead fish in the canal behind his home is keeping him off the water.
“This water is usually kind of greenish-brown, and there is some clarity to it,” he said. “We can see fish. You cannot see anything right now. It is murky, brownish-red soup. With lots of dead fish.”