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Charlie Crist asks EPA to investigate deaths of pelicans, egrets in St. Pete

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to investigate the troubling deaths of more than 20 pelicans and egrets in the Tampa Bay area last week, as well as the massive beaching of false killer whales this weekend that resulted in more than 80 deaths of these mammals.

The freshman Democrat from St. Petersburg wants the EPA to test the toxicity of the surrounding waterways to see if these deaths are linked to poor water quality caused by harmful algal blooms.

The four-paragraph letter dated Tuesday, says:

“I am writing today to request that the EPA investigate two recent events of great concern to me: multiple pelican and egret deaths in the Tampa Bay area, as well as the deaths of more than 80 false killer whales in Everglades National Park.

“In the waters surrounding my district, at least 22 pelicans and egrets died last week alone, with many more birds falling ill and being taken in for rehabilitation. Following a recent cold snap and resulting fish kill, there has been an influx of birds to the area. While a fish kill following cold weather is not uncommon, the deaths of the birds suggest there is something besides cold weather happening in the waters around Tampa Bay. The city of St. Petersburg has asked the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to test for the presence of toxic algae in the water, but I am requesting that the EPA also get involved in investigating this alarming situation.

“In addition, more than 80 false killer whales died over the weekend during a mass beaching on the Gulf Coast of Everglades National Park. While the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and FWC are performing necropsies to determine the cause of the stranding, I would like the EPA to test the toxicity of the surrounding waters to determine if a link exists between the stranding and water quality.

“Both of these incidents are extremely disturbing and raise concerns of harmful algal blooms in the waters off of Florida’s Gulf Coast. Given the devastating effects of last year’s algal blooms on both the east and west coasts of Florida, I am asking that the EPA fully investigate these events, report the findings to me and the public, and work to mitigate further impacts. Thank you for your swift consideration and attention to this matter.”

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