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Red tide takeover: Dead fish cleanup in St. Lucie County

Red tide takeover: Dead fish cleanup in St. Lucie County (WPEC)

First thing in the morning on Wednesday, St. Lucie County workers started cleaning up dead fish on a four-mile stretch of beach on North Hutchinson Island.

Hundreds of dead fish washed ashore because of red tide, an algal bloom lingering off the coast of Indian River and St. Lucie counties.

St. Lucie County workers wanted to act quickly, so they decide to put all the dead fish in piles along the beach.

"The idea is to get the beach cleaned up as quick as possible, but also make it effective and do as minimal environmental impact," said George Landy, the Division Director for St. Lucie County Solid Waste Division. "Gather the fish quickly, minimize the smell with the sand."

The piles along the beach, mostly sand. Landy explained that workers will sift through the sand, leaving as much sand on the beach as they can while getting rid of the dead fish. Those dead fish will then be dumped at the landfill. Landry says they will follow all state laws and DEP regulations while disposing of these fish.

This cleanup effort could take days and potentially cost the county $50,000 to $100,000, according to Landry.

In addition to the cleanup, Landry said they're also assessing the situation to determine how much it will cost. That's why Howard Tipton, the St. Lucie County Administrator, came to see the progress Wednesday.

"I think what I felt was a tinge of sadness," Tipton said as he saw all the dead fish for the first time.

He continued to express his concern for the damage red tide is doing to the reef.

Damage not only to the fish, but to people.

Landry is urging everyone to stay away from the beaches in Indian River and St. Lucie counties.

"There's no reason for people to come down," he said. "This has a real effect on your breathing and it can have a real impact on you, especially of you have respiratory issues."

He explained the beaches will remain closed until red tide is gone.

"When it's time to come back and enjoy the beautiful beaches, we'll let you know," Tipton said.

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