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Dead fish due to a red tide in January near Captiva Island. Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

A growing bloom of the red tide organism Karenia brevis is spreading around Tampa Bay and other parts of Southwest Florida, prompting Pinellas County health officials to issue a warning to beachgoers late last week.

Why it matters: Beach businesses still recovering from the pandemic worry that a serious red tide could keep visitors away from a region that depends on tourism — and the bloom could spell disaster for the area’s marine ecosystems.

By the numbers: According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the red tide organism was detected in 71 water samples last week, with bloom concentrations observed in 17 samples.

  • Bloom concentrations were found in six samples from Pinellas County, four samples from Hillsborough County and five samples from Manatee County. (Map)

What they're saying: "It ranks up there with the 2018 red tide in terms of how bad it is for the health of the bay," David Tomasko, executive director of the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, told the Bradenton Herald. "The last thing in the world we needed was this."

  • Scores of fish kills have been reported to the FWC since June 1.
  • Visit St. Pete/Clearwater has promised to keep locals and visitors informed about conditions along the 35 miles of Pinellas County beaches here.

Some useful advice, straight from the Pinellas County Health Department:

  • If you live near the bay or beaches, close windows and run the air conditioning.
  • If outdoors, consider wearing a filter mask, especially if onshore winds are blowing.
  • Don't swim around dead fish.
  • Keep pets away from the water, sea foam and dead fish.
  • Do not harvest or eat molluscan shellfish or distressed or dead fish. Rinse healthy fish fillets with tap or bottled water.
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Go deeper

1 hour ago - Sports

The new faces of NBC's Olympics coverage

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Cy Cyr/PGA Tour via Getty Images

A new(ish) face will be leading NBCUniversal's prime-time coverage of the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games: veteran sportscaster Mike Tirico.

Why it matters: It's Tirico's first run as prime-time host for the Summer Olympics. Legendary broadcaster Bob Costas hosted 12 Olympic Games between 1988 and 2016 for NBC before handing over the prime-time spot to Tirico in 2018.

Ina Fried, author of Login
2 hours ago - Sports

Behind the scenes at the COVID Olympics

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios, Photo: Steph Chambers/Getty Images

TOKYO — The COVID rule-breaking was obvious at Friday's opening ceremony, when athletes were clearly visible on TV with masks below their noses, but an athlete tells Axios that the rule-breaking has been going on well before that.

  • It's been happening at least since athletes arrived in the Olympic Village, where masks were dropped below noses and different teams were forced to share buses.
2 hours ago - Sports

Axios AM Deep Dive: The Covid Olympics

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Welcome to our Axios AM Deep Dive behind the scenes of the Tokyo Olympics detailing the impact of the COVID pandemic, led by Ina Fried, who's on the ground in Tokyo, plus Kendall Baker, who's covering the Games every day in his Axios Sports newsletter.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

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