Pinellas County uses helicopter to track red tide bloom

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla .– Red tide cleanup crews in Pinellas County are receiving help from above to spot toxic algae blooms.

Pinellas County uses a helicopter to spot red tide blooms. Then they direct the crews of the boats to the worst places.


Greg Novak is part of a 40-person team working for DRC Emergency Services, the company hired by Pinellas County to help with the cleanup. Novak is a third generation shrimp trader. When the red tide snatched things away from him, he set to work collecting dead fish.

“They gave us a chance to move on, make a living and help clean up at the same time which really saved us,” Novak said while explaining that the bait shrimp market had exploded during the tide. red.

Novak is working on a small shrimp boat, one of Pinellas’ 25 counties used Tuesday to pick up dead fish before they washed ashore on beaches, canals and boat ramps.

So far, crews have cleared 1,300 tonnes of red tide debris. That’s the weight of 930 standard size cars.



Jay Gunter is leading the cleanup efforts for DRC emergency services and says winds and tides are having an impact on the cleanup.

“I think we are getting ahead,” he explained. “On Monday I was a little skeptical because we were hit pretty well, but we’re back ahead today.”

The bay was virtually empty of dead fish on Tuesday, but county crews had to add rakes to beaches south of Indian Shores, where dead fish began to wash.

FWC took a photo Tuesday showing the red tide 10 miles off the coast of Pinellas County.



Pinellas County recently launched a new reporting tool that you can use to alert them to fish deaths in areas with thousands of marine deaths. You can find this tool by clicking here.

Gunter says it’s a crucial part of the cleanup answer.

“We have all the equipment, but we can’t be everywhere and see everything, so the more they report, the faster we react,” he added.

Offshore winds are expected to bring more dead fish to our shoreline later this week, local leaders say it will take a community effort to stay ahead of the toxic bloom.

About Michael Sample

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