Wednesday, before Hurricane Michael blew by us offshore, the barrier beaches in St. Petersburg had finally returned to “normal conditions” according to a website that reports on the status of the red tide on the beaches near us. Normal, meaning, clear turquoise blue water, no dead fish, no odor, no cough when you walked the beach. We were so happy to see that, it’s been all summer that we’ve watched it creep up the coast to us, and then creep back down.
But the hurricane stirred the Gulf of Mexico like my Kitchen Aid mixer on steroids, and this morning the reports were of “dark water” or “cloudy water”, “strong odor”, and “strong respiratory irritation”. So this morning we decided to take a walk down at Clam Bayou, a small nature preserve in the back water of Boca Ciega Bay, popular with kayakers and fishermen. There are walking/biking paths through it, and piers and fishing stations built out over the waters for those who fish from land. It’s beautiful, unspoiled, and quiet. These are a couple pics I took this morning.
The sad thing is the lack of fish, compared to our last walk there a few days ago. Then, there were clouds of fry and fingerling swimming around the piers then, in abundance, and larger fish jumping out of the water like crazy. Today we saw only a couple of much smaller schools of fry, (the real baby fish), and only a few individual fingerlings. There were a few fish still jumping out in the deep water but the overall amount of fish we saw was about one-tenth of just a few days ago.
Now, of course, this could be a function of the tides and all the debris in the water that washed from the shore in the storm tide. We were there at low tide this morning. But we saw dead fish on the shore, and crabs. The smell, non-existent a few days ago was strong. Strong enough to make us want to walk away from the edges of the water, where the high tide.
But the water was once again brown, with poor visibility even in the 2 or 3 feet of water under the fishing stations. The red tide is back, sadly. I hope the fish can recover. I hope the red tide, after a few days of hanging around here, will wash away and continue the march south that it was making pre-hurricane.
Looking at the bayou from the fishing stations over the water, it seems such a beautiful place. Hoping it will return to that state in the not too distant future.
As ever, love and light to everyone.