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Dead Giant Goliath Groupers Wash Ashore During Red Tide Fish Kill In Florida

PETERSBURG (CBSMiami) -- An unusually large bloom of toxic red tide is being blamed for a massive fish kill in Tampa Bay off the St. Petersburg shoreline including several giant Goliath Grouper.

Officials say more than 600 tons of dead fish and other marine life have been scooped up in recent weeks along the St. Petersburg shoreline.

Wendy Wesley posted a picture Wednesday on her social media of a large Goliath grouper that washed up on the beach at Lassing Park in southeast St. Petersburg.

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A giant Goliath group apparently killed in red tide fish kill in St. Petersburg on July 14, 2021. (Courtesy: Wendy Wesley)

There was another further north that weighed about 400 pounds. Crews needed a backhoe to remove it.

Their cause of death is unknown but occurred during the massive fish kill plaguing the area.

Experts say there is no sign of red tide relief and the problem could linger for months.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said at a news conference Wednesday that state assistance is needed to tackle the red tide bloom. So far, no emergency declaration has been forthcoming from Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Red tide is a naturally occurring phenomenon that can be exacerbated by nutrients such as nitrogen. The presence of the toxin-producing microorganisms of this magnitude in Tampa Bay is unusual, with some samples showing concentrations 10 to 17 times above what is considered a high level.

One potential cause is the April leak of tens of millions of gallons of contaminated water from the old Piney Point fertilizer plant along the bay in nearby Manatee County. Scientists have not yet pinpointed the reason for massive red tide bloom but said the leak is a chief suspect.

"We have no reason not to link those two things together," said Maya Burke, Tampa Bay Estuary Program assistant director, according to the Associated Press.

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