TAMPA BAY -- With no end to this red tide bloom in sight, there are things you can do to help animals in trouble before it's too late.
Nine dead dolphins have been found dead in Sarasota County since the weekend. They are the latest victims of what experts fear may be red tide. While the official cause of death is still under investigation, thousands of fish, manatees and sea turtles have been killed by the toxic bloom.
They rely on beachgoers, boaters and others on the water to find animals in need. So far, they’ve only saved manatee victims of red tide. With dolphins possibly at risk, Clearwater crews are ready to respond to calls.
If you find a dolphin or manatee stranded on a beach that’s an obvious sign of distress. Although you might want to help it, Abby Stone, a stranding coordinator with the aquarium, says it’s important to stay away.
Call a professional to help.
“It’s important not to push the animals back into the water,” Stone said. “Often times they’ll end up re-stranding and we may not know where they re-strand and it just prolongs their suffering.”
Stone says nursing beached manatees and dolphins back to health could take months. The good news is the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the low concentration of red tide found in Pinellas likely won’t move north.
Lifelong Floridian Ellan Lain canceled weekend plans with her family after seeing videos of the fish killed by red tide. She’s happy to know Pinellas County beaches will likely not be impacted.
“What’s happening really makes me sad and angry. When we found out about it we started canceling our plans one after the other. Can’t take the babies here, can’t risk it. You can’t bring a toddler to this beach and think they’re not going to be jumping in the water,” she said. “Now that I know it likely won’t spread we may still keep our plans for Saturday. “
If you’d like more information on red tide, FWC provides a statewide red tide status reports typically updated every Friday afternoon -- go to myfwc.com/redtidestatus. Fish kills can be reported by calling 1-800-636-0511.
Based on statewide results, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides forecasts of potential respiratory irritation at http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/hab/
Mote’s Beach Conditions Reporting System provides shoreline observations at participating Tampa Bay area beaches as often as twice daily at visitbeaches.org
In partnership with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the Collaboration for Prediction of Red Tides (CPR) at the University of South Florida offers a new Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) tracking tool to help federal, state, and local end users monitor and manage Karenia brevis, red tide blooms on the west coast of Florida.
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