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Health Alert Issued For Hillsborough Beaches As Red Tide Blooms Linger

The beaches along Pinellas County should be mostly clear this weekend, officials reported, but a health alert was issued for Picnic Island and Davis Islands in Hillsborough.

Toxic red tide blooms are lingering in Tampa Bay and along the Gulf coast up to Pasco County.

The Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County issued a health alert Friday for the beaches of Picnic Island and Davis Islands. Caution signs have been placed at Ben T. Davis Beach and Cypress Point.

Click here for the latest statewide red tide results.

The health department issued the following recommendations for beachgoers:

  • Do not swim around dead fish at these locations.
  • Those with chronic respiratory problems should be careful and consider staying away from these locations as red tide can affect breathing.
  • Do not harvest or eat molluscan shellfish from these locations.
  • Do not harvest or eat distressed or dead fish from these locations.
  • Rinse fillets from healthy fish with tap or bottled water. Throw out guts.
  • Keep pets and livestock away from water, sea foam and dead sea life.

Some people may experience cold-like symptoms, and those with breathing problems, such as asthma, might experience more severe symptoms, according to health officials.

Pinellas County officials said most beaches look good for the weekend, showing little to no sign of red tide, except for Honeymoon Island State Park, which had a high concentration of the red tide organism Karenia brevis.

Click here to track red tide on Pinellas beaches.

“Problems do persist in the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) and Tampa Bay,” according to a Pinellas press release. “Visible blooms and dead fish have been observed in the ICW from Anclote Key south, as well as within Boca Ciega Bay and around the Gulfport Pier. Pinellas County is monitoring the ICW for cleanup needs.”

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported low to high levels of red tide in lower Tampa Bay on Friday. Blooms and dead fish were observed further north in the bay, along with a suspected non-toxic Pyrodinium bloom near Safety Harbor.

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Jessica Meszaros is a reporter and host of All Things Consideredfor WGCU News.