PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Red tide continues to ravage Pinellas County beaches and while it’s irritating humans and killing fish, birds are being impacted as well.
“We’re having these blooms in such close proximity to each other. We’re not giving our fish populations enough time to recover and that’s going to affect all of the wildlife that depend on that food source,” Avian Hospital Director Melissa Edwards said,
Many of these birds are eating the contaminated dead fish causing them to get sick too and Seaside Seabird Sanctuary is stepping in to save day.
“Concerned people will either call our rescue line and we’ll dispatch our rescue volunteers to get the injured birds or people will directly bring them here to the hospital,” Edwards said.
She said it’s easy to spot an infected bird.
“It can cause kind of paralysis almost, so they’re not able to walk. Not able to stand. Sometimes the early symptoms you see them kind of face planting and just looking almost drunk, stumbling around. Then, it could lead to them not being able to swallow or blink their eyes,” Edwards said.
The birds receive fluids paired with medications to flush out toxins. It usually takes them seven days to get better. Staff is stretched thin because of the influx of sick birds, but it isn’t as bad as 2018’s red tide impact.
“We did get like 60 red knots all within one weekend due to red tide so that was a lot of stress on our hospital,” said Edwards. “In November, we had gotten 200 (birds) in not even a month, so we haven’t reached those numbers quite yet.”
Edwards says while they do have birds in recovery, ready to be rereleased they are waiting until conditions on the beach improve to do it.
The Seaside Seabird Sanctuary is collecting donations to make sure they have all of the supplies and tools they need. If you’d like to donate, you can access that information on their website Seaside Seabird Sanctuary.