Hundreds send positive message about the environment

hands along the water
Above, more than 500 people, many wearing masks, stand next to each other and holding hands to show unity. After the line broke up, many people rushed to get away from the red tide smell. - Tom Vaught | Sun

The Gulf of Mexico was churning up more dead sea life and caustic smell Sunday morning, the result of the latest red tide outbreak. But that didn’t stop about 500 people who turned out at Coquina Beach not to protest but to show support for Florida’s fragile environment by participating in the Hands Along the Water event.

“I could not sleep when red tide came because of the smell and knowing what it was doing to the sea creatures,” event organizer Elizabeth Shore said. “I learned about Hands Along the Water and wanted to hold an event on Anna Maria Island.”

Shore, who owns Bunny and the Pirate Bazaar on Cortez Road West, said she didn’t want to protest anything, just show positive support for the environment.

Shore is a fifth-generation native of Manatee County and the daughter of the late R.B. “Chips” Shore, former Clerk of the Circuit Court.

Hands along the water masks
Tracy Powers and Teri Lennon pause for a selfie before departing.
Teri Lennon | Submitted

Noxious stuff

Red tide is an algae that emits a neurotoxin when it blooms. The toxin can kill sea life and seabirds that feed on them and sea turtles. The Island has had outbreaks in the past but not in such an abundance, according to long-time residents.

Hands Along the Water also shows support for ending the algae that fill rivers and canals around Lake Okeechobee in the southern part of Florida.

A group of visitors from southern Florida said they learned about Hands Along the Water from Facebook and are shocked at the way the green algae kills everything in the canals and rivers. They said they would support politicians who would want to protect the environment and improve the condition of Florida’s waterways and shores.