90.7 WMFE and 89.5 WMFV are Central Florida's primary provider of NPR programming and Classical Music. Part of the community since 1965, providing quality national and local news and programming. We inspire and empower all Central Floridians to discover, grow and engage within and beyond their world.
Support for 90.7 WMFE is provided by

Smell Of Dead Fish Permeates Downtown St. Petersburg Waterfront

Photo: Steve Newborn/WUSF

The smell of dead fish filled the downtown St. Petersburg waterfront, as scores of catfish and horseshoe crabs killed by red tide floated belly-up in the shadow of the city marina.

Thousands of dead fish killed by red tide continued to litter the St. Petersburg waterfront Monday, even after 15 tons had been scooped out of the water by city crews.

Chris Kuhn was walking his dog along the waterfront, shaking his head at the carnage just offshore.

“I’ve lived down here for seven years. I’ve never noticed it being this bad, like when you’re walking along the bayfront, I’ve walked down here often — I’ve never seen this many dead fish right here.”

“I never noticed it downtown, here in the bay, nearly as bad as this,” he said. “And today in particular — compared to the past week or two — we walk here nearly every day. This is the worst I’ve ever seen it. I’ve never seen so many, so close,” he said.

His father, Bob Kuhn, is visiting from Chicago.

“We come down and visit, and I’ve never seen it like this — ever. It’s just kind of interesting to see this — I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.

One city worker filling black trash bags along the sea wall said the red tide also claimed a grouper that weighed about 300 pounds.

Doug Byrd of St. Petersburg operates Bada Bing! Water Sports there. He said the thousands of dead fish had appeared in just one day as city workers had cleaned the marina the day before.

Employees idle outside the marina

Steve Newborn Bada Bing! Water Sports employees idled by red tide

“This is actually just from last evening, after eight o’clock is when we closed and you didn’t have any fish in here,” he said. “The smell is absolutely horrific. Yesterday, midday, when people were coming here, people just couldn’t stand it. They were coughing. This is obviously the worst that we have had in years. Right here in downtown St. Pete.”

Byrd said as bad it was downtown, it was even worse a mile to the north.

“If you go towards Snell Isle and Coffee Pot Bayout, it is just infested,” he said. “I mean, we think we’ve got it bad here, it’s trapped down there.”

Byrd said he had seen a dead dolphin floating in the bay.

Trash bags full of dead fish along the St. Petersburg downtown waterfron

Steve Newborn Trash bags full of dead fish along the St. Petersburg downtown waterfront

Get The 90.7 WMFE Newsletter

Your trusted news source for the latest Central Florida news, updates on special programs and more.

Stay tuned in to our local news coverage: Listen to 90.7 WMFE on your FM or HD radio, the WMFE mobile app or your smart speaker — say “Alexa, play NPR” and you’ll be connected.

WMFE Journalistic Ethics Code | Public Media Code of Integrity