Initial test results from water samples taken from waters in and around Coffee Pot Bayou and Riviera Bay have shown no abnormalities, but testing of sick and dead pelicans will continue, St. Petersburg officials said.
“From all we’ve seen, the water there is in overall good shape,” said Interim Water Resources Director John Palenchar. “But we will continue testing, and so the signs will stay up for awhile.”
The city has collected 15 dead or dying pelicans since Jan. 12. City workers also responded to a fish kill earlier this month in Riviera Bay.
This week, warnings for recreational water users about the dead pelicans (first seen at the Riviera Bay retention pond, then over the past weekend in and around Coffee Pot Bayou) were posted along the shoreline from North Shore Park through Coffee Pot Bayou. The signs informed residents about the enhanced and cooperative testing being spearheaded by the city of St. Petersburg and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission after sick and dead pelicans were found in the area.
The city has also brought in an independent biologist to further study what’s causing the birds to be sick.
Initial water samples from the retention pond where the sick birds were first encountered showed low levels of dissolved oxygen. Samples from nearby Riviera Bay and waters further south into Coffee Pot Bayou had normal levels of oxygen.
In addition, the other tested elements fell within normal parameters for recreational waterways, except for a lone site near the Coffee Pot Bayou boat ramp showing poor water quality.
“The good news is that the water is in good shape,” Palenchar said. “We are continuing with follow-up sampling and data sharing with FWC and our environmental consultant. … We will continue to work with the FWCC and our independent partners to pinpoint the problem.”
Palenchar added that the incident is in no way related to last summer’s heavy rains and the subsequent discharge of potentially treated sewage water.
A reminder from the FWC: Residents who see sick or dead birds or other wildlife are encouraged to make an online bird mortality report or to call FWC’s Fish Kill Hotline at 1-800-636-0511.