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St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman calls on Gov. DeSantis for red tide resources

Red tide has hit the St. Pete area especially hard.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — On Tuesday, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and other city leaders met to discuss the impact of red tide in the area. 

He said more than 500 tons of dead sea life has been cleaned up from our waterways so far.

Red tide has hit the St. Pete area especially hard. Mayor Kriseman said he had been out with cleanup crews before he spoke to the community. 

"It's pretty awful. The odor sticks to you. It stays in your nasal passages. Then, there's the emotional toll of just dealing with all the dead animals," Kriseman said. 

Kriseman said he wasn't sure how much longer the city and contractors for the city could spend working on the cleanup. He said the city needs help.

"We are asking the governor, please, Pinellas County, St. Petersburg, we need your help."

Kriseman said more help is needed if people want the waterways to be clean again.

If you have dead sea life on your property, you will have to clean it up yourself, Kriseman said. He said the city could not be cleaning up at private homes.

You can find a list of where to drop off dead sea life you've cleaned up here.

In response to the mayor's plea for help, a spokesperson for the governor said Kriseman is "either unaware of what is actually going on in his own backyard or is deliberately lying and using red tide as an attempt to score cheap political points."

The governor's office referred to the 2018 state of emergency that was declared over red tide by then-governor Rick Scott. They say the order freed up funds to aid in clean-up efforts.

"For the time being, [Florida Department of Environmental Protection] has a dedicated funding source and is providing grants to affected counties as was done in 2018, and unless that funding source is depleted, a state of emergency is not necessary," the governor's office said.

Kriseman countered the governor's office's response, saying "I don't care how our city receives assistance. Whether it's the governor declaring an emergency or his DEP doing something...I just need more boats."

Red tide is affecting many of the Tampa Bay area's beautiful waterways, causing dead sea life to wash up on shore. Aside from being incredibly foul-smelling, the algal blooms can have negative impacts on your health while you're around them.

Red tide is a harmful algal bloom, or HAB, that is created when plants in the sea grow out of control and cause harmful toxins. Those toxins can have negative impacts on people, marine mammals, birds, fish and shellfish. 

If you can't avoid being near red tide blooms because you live or work in the area, you should wear a mask, like the ones worn to protect you from COVID-19. "The particle size of the breva toxin is the same size as respiratory droplets, so a regular face mask will help you avoid transmission and lessen those symptoms," said Dr. Alvarez.

If you do swim in water with concerning levels of red tide, you should avoid putting your head underwater and getting it into your eyes. After swimming, you should rinse off with fresh, clean water as soon as possible.

You can watch the entire press briefing here.

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