Pinellas County red tide: Glass-bottom canoe business owner says they see ‘fish dying right in front of us’

Red Tide

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The owner of a unique Pinellas County business is one of those effected by the red tide bloom across the Tampa Bay area.

David Metcalfe is the CEO and president of Sharkey’s Water Sports Glass Bottom Tours. Some of the tours take place at night and the glass-bottom canoes are illuminated with LED lights in locations in St. Pete Beach, John’s Pass and Clearwater Beach. The tours even feed local sea life and pick up litter as they go about.

“We literally light up the sea floor. We attract sea life, shrimp, plankton and small fish species actually are even attracted to the lights as we do our tour,” Metcalfe explained. “So we’re able to see the sea life up close every night.”

He advocates for the need to protect our waters, having been on them for most of his life. Metcalfe was emotional when speaking about what he’s seeing on local waters when he and his staff guide tours.

“What we’ve been seeing every night… literally fish dying right in front of us. We’ve watched eels, avian and little fish species, pinfish, sardines, just spinning in circles and dying in front of our customers,” he said. “It’s about the saddest thing we’ve seen.”

The persistent issues of red tide have driven Metcalfe and his business farther north. He said they spent a few days in Madeira Beach, where he and his staff witnessed things get worse.

“We’ve been sending our drone up every day at every one of our locations and St. Pete Beach has just been wiped out, literally, with the dead fish and the red tide,” he said.

The company has since moved farther to Clearwater, to what Metcalfe calls a “little slice of paradise” currently not seeing the effects of red tide, to show their customers the sea life.

As for how those in effected communities and beyond can help, Metlcalfe offered some advice.

“Let’s work together. Let’s clean this up. I know it smells but it’s only going to smell worse and continuous everyday if we don’t take that one day to clean up, because cleaning up and working together is only going to help up what’s here for us to enjoy. The beautiful bounty, the beautiful nature, the sea life, that we’ve worked so hard to protect,” he said.

If you are aware of or sponsoring a red tide-related clean-up, please let 8 On Your Side know by emailing Daisy Ruth at druth@wfla.com.

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