ANNA MARIA ISLAND – The impacts of red tide are being felt up and down Anna Maria Island.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website describes red tide as an algae bloom that produces toxic or harmful effects for people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals and birds.
Bridge Tender Inn and Dockside Bar manager Shannon Dunnan said no one sat at their waterfront bar on Sunday because of all the dead fish that washed ashore along the bay side.
“It’s horrific, the most horrendous smell ever. You start gagging on the smell of fish. The storm last night drove them all out and the high tide brought them all back in,” Dunnan said Monday morning.
“We’ve got guys out there now putting up fencing so the dead fish don’t land on our shores,” Dunnan said.
Later in the day, she said the situation had improved.
Sherman Baldwin runs Paradise Boat Tours in Bradenton Beach and lives in Siesta Key.
“We’re 70 percent off our normal business. We would typically be really busy the last week before the kids go back to school,” Baldwin said.
“This morning it was brutal,” he said of the conditions near the Bridge Street Pier.
“Siesta Beach was eerie, there was nobody out there,” he added.
“I’m headed to Tallahassee Wednesday to try and find out what’s being done about this on a long-term basis. I’m going to try to get with some of the state representatives in the area. I’m going to Tallahassee even if I have to walk by myself with a sign in front of the State House,” Baldwin said.
Danny Canniff works at the Anna Maria Island Inn. He said they had five cancellations on Sunday due to red tide.
“I’m sure we’re going to get more,” he said.
City Commissioner Ralph Cole operates Coastal Watersports on the Gulf of Mexico and he said they had no rentals Sunday because of the red tide.
In Cortez, Swordfish Grill General Manager Bob Slicker said the red tide was impacting business on that side of the bay too.
“We had no boat traffic Sunday, which is one of busier days. We’ve seen no dead fish in our canal and we haven’t noticed it out on the deck, but I think the news of red tide is scaring everybody away,” he said.
Holmes Beach Det. Sgt. Brian Hall issued a press release Monday afternoon on red tide.
“The red tide bloom has arrived on the beaches of Holmes Beach. The city has been working with Manatee County Public Works and Waste Pro to ensure that the beaches are cleaned and the red tide waste is disposed of properly and efficiently,” he wrote.
Dumpsters for dead fish will be placed at 30th, 33rd, 36th, 46th, 67th and 71st street beach accesses. People are asked not to place red tide waste in garbage cans not designated for red tide waste because they won’t be emptied as quickly. The city also seeks volunteers to help clean the beaches. If interested, contact Code Enforcement at 941-708-5804 ext. 247 or 249. Masks, gloves and a trash grabber will be provided.
Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy said dead fish littered the beach Sunday from the Sandbar restaurant to the Rod & Reel Pier.
“Last night it was pretty bad, but then we had a storm come in and take a good portion of it. All of the sudden it just appeared yesterday in the afternoon. I got no warning, but the county jumped right on it. Today there’s people walking the beach, but not many,” Murphy said.
Sandbar owner Ed Chiles was in Montana when contacted Monday morning.
“Red tide is everybody’s worst nightmare when you get a bad outbreak. We’ve had red tide in background concentrations for a number of years off and on and we have been very lucky that we haven’t had dead fish and that heavy aerosol that makes you cough. When you get that, it’s detrimental to everything on the beaches,” he said.
Monday morning, Manatee County Information Outreach Manager Nicholas Azzara sent email updates to county commissioners and others.
“Property Management and Parks and Natural Resources are taking the lead on cleaning Coquina, Bayfront and Manatee beaches of the fish and sea life killed by the recent arrival of red tide,” one email said.
Another said that due to the public health risks posed by red tide, daily beach cleaning activities that normally occur at the public beaches will be extended the length of the Island along the tide line.
Holmes Beach resident and charter captain Scott Moore was fishing near Terra Ceia in east Manatee County Monday morning.
“The water’s perfectly clear up here and we’re catching fish, and they’ve been catching fish 8 to 10 miles offshore no problem,” Moore said.
Moore believes the red tide entered through Longboat Pass on the south end of the Island.
“We had an east wind and it blew all the dead fish to the shoreline on the backside of the Island. If we had a west wind it would be all over the beaches,” he said.
“Do not eat any shellfish, clams or oysters. You can eat shrimp. And I wouldn’t swim in the water where there’s dead, decaying fish because there’s bacteria in the water,” he added.