© 2022 All Rights reserved WUSF
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Red Tide May Have Contributed To Pelican Deaths In St. Pete, State Report Says

Seven pelican were returned to the wild after recovering from a mysterious illness.
City of St. Petersburg
Seven pelican were returned to the wild after recovering from a mysterious illness.

Red tied may have contributed to the deaths of 70 pelicans in St. Petersburg early this year, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

An FWC investigation says a toxin from red tide was found in some of the dead birds, according to the Times.

Nutrients found in fertilizers and human and animal waste are believed to feed the algae blooms that cause red tide outbreaks.

Major storms forced St. Petersburg to release more than 150 million gallons of partially treated sewage into Tampa Bay last year.

But Mayor Rick Kriseman says a company hired by the city to test the dead pelicans found they likely died from botulism poisoning after eating dead fish in a pond -- not red tide.

"We hired a consultant,” Kriseman said. “We wanted to make sure it was an independent company and it wasn't us that was doing the testing and they came back and their findings didn't indicate a connection (to the sewage releases).”

FWC's report also noted the presence of botulism. The agency's investigation is not complete.  

Copyright 2017 Health News Florida

Newspapers were my first love, but public radio stole my heart from the moment I tuned in during college.
WUSF 89.7 depends on donors for the funding it takes to provide you the most trusted source of news and information here in town, across our state, and around the world. Support WUSF now by giving monthly, or make a one-time donation online.