PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County released a statement Friday saying a red tide bloom has been found along the county’s coastal beaches.

Health officials say “some people may have mild and short-lived respiratory symptoms such as eye, nose, and throat irritation similar to cold symptoms.” People with breathing problems such as asthma might experience more severe symptoms.

If you experience any of the above symptoms, Pinellas County officials ask you stay away from beach areas or go into an air-conditioned space. If your symptoms do not go away, please contact your doctor.

FWC has a detailed map of where the red tide blooms are currently.

The county’s Department of Health recommends the following steps for red tide safety:

  • Do not swim around dead fish at this location
  • If you have chronic respiratory problems, be careful and consider staying away from this location as red tide can affect your breathing
  • Do not harvest or eat molluscan shellfish and distressed or dead fish from this location. If fish are healthy, rinse fillets with tap or bottled water and throw out the guts
  • Keep pets away from water, sea foam, and dead sea life
  • Residents living in beach areas are advised to close windows and run the air conditioner (making sure that the A/C filter is maintained according to manufacturer’s specifications)
  • If outdoors, residents may choose to wear paper filter masks, especially if onshore winds are blowing

The Florida Poison Control Centers have a toll-free 24/7 Hotline for reporting illnesses, including health effects from exposure to red tide, at 1-888-232-8635.

Red Tide is making some bay area businesses feel blue. They tell 8 on your side they feel like they just made it through covid, and now they’re worried about the impacts the algae bloom will bring them.

“It was like walking through a graveyard of dead fish,” said Aaron Manuel recalling his walk on Sand Key Beach earlier in the day. He and his mom, Kaycee, came down to Sand Key with family for a ‘beach staycation’, but when they saw the dead fish, they knew their plan was a flop.

“We’re going to go to the pool and go to museums instead of going to the beach,” said Kaycee.

“Will it hurt this business? Sure. Will it hurt this beach? Sure,” said Jake Zunac who said he works for North Beach Watersports setting up thrillseekers on water adventures on Clearwater Beach.

He’s seen dead fish too and has waves of worry about red tide. “With the south winds blowing like they are, we know it’s coming,” said Zunac.

Florida Fish and wildlife officials said moderate red tide algae blooms have expanded to Clearwater recently. Blooms are also in Reddington Beach, Pass-A-Grille, and multiple areas of Tampa Bay.

“I don’t know what normal is yet, we’re still trying to figure that out coming out of covid,” said Ken Hamilton, President of Palm Pavillion on Clearwater beach.

Hamilton said they’re finally on an upswing after covid killed 35% of their business last year. While red tide is worrisome, he said they’ll go with the flow.

“There is nothing I can do to control it. When it gets here we’ll deal with it and we’ll just keep on rolling,” Hamilton said.

A message of resiliency from the business community. “If life is a boxing match you have to learn to roll with the punches,” said Zunac.

Life is full of unexpected twists for many. “A seagull stole my chicken tender today!” Aaron Manuel recalling his short walk on the beach.

Clearwater officials said we’re still a long way off from beaches closing down. One thing to keep an eye out for is the lifeguard stand, if double red flags fly, that means don’t go in the water.

For more information on red tide in Pinellas County, visit the health department’s website.

FWC has a page devoted to frequently asked questions where you can learn more.

Mote Marine Aquarium has an interactive site where you can help notify others when you see dead fish near you.