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Tampa Bay Watch tells clean-up volunteers: Don't enter the water

Volunteers with Tampa Bay Watch picked up trash along the shoreline and were told not to go into the water.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Tens of thousands of fish have been removed from the shorelines and waterways in St. Petersburg over the past few days. As clean-up efforts continue, a local non-profit is taking caution while lending a helping hand.

Because of growing concerns over red tide, volunteers with Tampa Bay Watch were given special instructions before Saturday's cleanup began.  

"We're telling our volunteers not to get in the water," said Rachel Arndt with the group.

Each year, the group picks up trash along the shoreline following the 4th of July holiday weekend. This year, Tampa Bay Watch partnered with Mang to help clear the shorelines.

"I was here in 2018, and there was a [red tide] event there," said Kyle Rossin, the CEO of Mang. "I think this [red tide event] is more significant than that one. I think this might be the worst red tide event that Tampa Bay has seen."

Red tide is a bloom of toxic red algae, known for its pungent smell. 

"It's definitely an unpleasant thing," Rossin said.

Although fish are dying by the tons, Arndt said overall, the waters are improving. 

"We know the water quality in Tampa Bay is improving by evidence of the seagrass growth and the water quality in general," she said.

In Pinellas County alone, there have been 174 reports submitted of fish kills because of red tide over the past 10 days. To read about recent reports submitted, or to submit one yourself, click here.

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