Officials say it’s the first time in over two years that emergency services have been deployed to help with the red tide situation.By Casey Albritton

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Red tide clean-up is underway in Pinellas County.

Over the next few days, emergency officials will be at Dunedin Beach removing dead fish from the water, and officials say it’s the first time in over two years that emergency services have been deployed to help with the red tide situation.

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On Honeymoon Island, cleanup crews are busy removing dead fish from the water. Officials say they’ve already filled three dumpsters with dead fish and there’s a lot more to go.

Neil Effer, a Pinellas County resident, says “I was out here yesterday morning, trying to fish, and noticed there were unfortunately dead bait fish lining the South side of the causeway.”

Jay Gunter, Regional Manager for DRC Emergency Services was called out to clean up the red tide. He says “by the bags, each boat is doing a couple every hour.”

Thousands of dead fish fill Pinellas County beaches.

“This is really the first time since 2018, this is the first time the county has activated us to help,” said Gunter.

Gunter says it’s sad to see red tide blooms killing so much wildlife.

“If we don’t get them off the beach, that’s an environmental issue,” said Gunter.

But even more so, Gunter says after the pandemic, the Tampa Bay economy is his focus.

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“People are finally able to get out, finally able to enjoy things. We need tourists, we need the residents to feel comfortable when at home, and we all need some comfort right now,” said Gunter.

Gunter says cleaning up 38 miles of beach line isn’t an easy task.

“We’re out here with several boats, and beach land crews that picking them up manually,” said Gunter.

Ahead of several more days of clean-up efforts, Governor Ron DeSantis held a meeting with scientists in St. Petersburg on Thursday to talk about red tide blooms and research being done on them. In his most recent budget, DeSantis included $4.2 million to go towards the Center for Red Tide Research.

“The local communities, the counties as well are pretty strapped. COVID-19 has paid a toll on them and tax payers, so any help from the state is certainly welcomed,” said Gunter.

Local residents say they hope red tide blooms can be managed going forward.

“It’s life, not really happy about it. It’s not good for the fish,” said Effer.

“Mother nature has her own way of doing things and telling us what we are going to do, but I can tell you we are going to react and we are going to clean it up,” said Gunter.

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USF scientists predict the red tide blooms will continue moving North over the next four days.