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Tampa bay water quality

I've noticed Tampa Bay is brownish in color after Ian.  Is that sewage or just natural?  The bay was so clear last year, I hope it hasn't reverted to years of past.


  • bigfinn35bigfinn35 Senior Member Sarasota/VenicePosts: 1,167 Officer
    Likely all the freshwater runoff from Ian if I had to guess. Could just be tannins, which isn't a big deal, but stormwater does tend to have a whole lot of nasty stuff mixed in. Chances of another algae bloom are only gonna decrease the colder it gets, though. 
    Paddle faster, I hear banjo music.
  • Kokosing LoverKokosing Lover Senior Member Posts: 1,180 Officer
    Water quality in the bay has been declining in the last several years due to a combination of apathy, poor city planning and individual pollution events.  Too much population growth without a commensurate growth in water treatment capacity is a big part of the problem.  That's what lead to the sewage overflows of the last several years.  Tampa Bay is still in far better shape than a lot of other bays, no mistaking that, but we've lost some of the progress and positive trajectory that was hard earned in the last 15-20 years.

    As for brownish color after Ian, that's not necessarily a water quality/pollution problem.  Lots of rain will flush a ton of stained river water and surface water (think wetlands with standing water that is coffee colored) into the bay, and that fresh water will float on top of the salt water, making the bay look dirtier than it really is.  Often times the top 3 feet of water will be like coffee and the water below it will be clear.  This is not to say that all brown water is benign, because that's not often the case, but a lot of the time it's just "dirty" water, not "bad" water.

    A freshwater cap on the surface of the bay that is too thick and lasts too long can still be bad news, even if the water isn't polluted.  A persistent freshwater lens over an area will prevent gas exchange between the atmosphere and the deeper layers at a rate high enough to keep up with biological demand for oxygen on the bottom.  I've dove off the beaches of Venice when a ton of river water had poured out and the top 5 feet of water was an impenetrable brown layer of river water.  Below that, the visibility was about 35', which is astoundingly good visibility for Venice.  The really fascinating thing (not good, but fascinating) was that the bottom water had been depleted of oxygen and all of the critters that live deep in the sediments,had bailed out and were "gasping for breath" on top of the silt.  Things like ghost shrimp, eels, brittle stars which are NEVER seen without dredging, were just wandering around, desperately seeking better water.
  • harbisonharbison Senior Member Posts: 5,667 Admiral
    edited November 2022 #4
     "desperately seeking better water."
    Remembering Tampa Bay water quality 70+ years ago... What a difference.
    I remember scallops in the miles of never ending grass flats around Courtney Campbell Causeway. The flats were loaded with trout, Redfish, flounder, grass grouper, crabs and shrimp.
    Huge schools of Mackerel were everywhere:

    First thing in the morning & late in the evening the Spanish Mackerel invaded the entire Gandy Bridge area. I know; I caught them by the tub-load:

    Days long gone, but NEVER forgotten. 
  • mudflatmarkmudflatmark Apollo beach, clearwater, cape san BlasPosts: 18 Deckhand
    Water isn't so bad in the bay I been on it for 67 years now.
  • harbisonharbison Senior Member Posts: 5,667 Admiral
    "Water isn't so bad in the bay"
    Sounds good!  I began fishing Tampa Bay in the late forties. Began offshore in the fifties. Other than tarpon fishing I did very little Bay fishing after that. Good to hear that the water quality "isn't so bad." 
    Love to see reports/pictures of Tampa Bay fishing today. 
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