PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Red Tide is ruining beach days in many parts of the Tampa Bay area, but some people are venturing out on the waterway anyhow. Pinellas County health experts do not recommend swimming in high risks area.
“If it doesn’t look clear, don’t got swimming in it,” said Tom Iovino with the Pinellas County Health Department.
He told 8 On Your Side there are several negative effects of swimming in high concentrated areas.
“We don’t want people swimming where the dead fish are. Part of the reason is that the fine bones in the fish could scratch your skin and could let in marine bacteria and we don’t want that to happen,” Iovino said.
Red Tide can also cause major respiratory issues. According to the FWC, that’s caused by toxins becoming airborne when wave action breaks cells open. The FWC warns that red tide can cause “serious illness” for people who already suffer from severe or chronic respiratory conditions like emphysema or asthma.
“People may have irritation in their respiratory tract: so their nose, their throat, their lungs. If they’re starting to experience that, maybe the best thing to do is get away from the area,” Iovino said.
There’s also several conversations on if the live fish you get from these waterways are safe to eat.
“We’d strongly recommend against that. Those fish on the surface that may still be alive but they are not going to be with us much longer. they’re on their way out,” said Iovino.
The Pinellas County Health Department is continuing to work with Florida Fish and Wildlife to track the movement of this year’s red tide and how it impacts you.
The FWC tracks red tide year-round and releases water samples regularly that are made public online. You can find the most recent eight days of sampling on an interactive map on the commission’s website. A red tide status update is released on the FWC website every Wednesday and Friday.