Town fights back at Red Tide

Editor & Publisher

It doesn’t take long for dead fish to raise a stink on Longboat Key. Over the past week, an unfortunate combination of tides and easterly winds has driven a large number of dead fish killed by Red Tide into the canals of South Longboat Key. According to the Town, the Red Tide has also killed snakes, opossums, eels and even a few three-foot grouper.

Fortunately, relief has appeared in the form of a town contractor who will earn more than $10,000 in two days removing tens of thousands of dead fish from all of the affected canals spanning the South end of the island to Mid-Key.

The carcasses were gathered and hauled off to the local landfill. The crews began work at 11 a.m. Friday morning and by end of day about 7,000 pounds of dead fish were removed. The workers have gone canal by canal, from South to North and unless more dead fish blow into Longboat’s waterways, they will be finished by the end of the weekend with the fish removal process.

The bacteria in the Red Tide, Karina Brevis, precludes fish from breathing and they bloat up and die. As the fish float, they rot and send a stench that has upset neighbors in the tony Country Club Shores residential neighborhood. The letters of complaint started floating into Town Hall early this past week.

As the Town tried to get its on-retainer contractor to the site of the dead fish, Country Club Shores resident Mike McAdaragh wrote Commissioner Lynn Larson.

“The town is getting a proposal for disposal/clean up cost. …Faster is better but something must be done. Why didn’t the town management have a plan and these proposals and contracts signed way before this occurred? This is not the first nor the last time we will have this condition happen. Going forward can you propose at the Commission level a requirement that the town management have under contract a clean up and disposal firm for this problem?”

Town Streets, Facilities, Parks and Recreation Manager Mark Richardson told Longboat Key News that the Town does have a contractor on retainer — Fort Myers-based AshBritt, which is on contingency for debris removal and clean up from disasters or storms. Richardson said the Red Tide fish kills fall into that category.

Richardson said Town Manager Dave Bullock alerted him mid week that it was time to call the contractor and he and the contractor assessed the situation on Thursday.

By Friday morning, AshBritt was heading north from Fort Myers to Longboat pulling a pontoon boat and a crew to harvest the dead fish. The fish were caught by net and placed in large heavy-duty receptacles that were lifted by a crane and taken to the landfill at the end of Friday.

Richardson said if the wind changes direction and starts to blow from the west it will help alleviate the situation and stop the noxious odor from entering homes. The fish tend to congregate at the end of the canals next to GMD.

As for the Red Tide forecast, Richardson says his statewide report says that there are high concentrations of the bacteria from Pinellas County all the way south to Sarasota, with Longboat being categorized as “moderate.”

Richardson has taken command of the contractor. The contractor has a team of individuals who are paid hourly and Richardson is working with them every minute they are there ensuring each canal is completely clean and inspected before they proceed to the next one.  Richardson said on Friday evening he will meet the crew at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning and will work every minute of the day to clear the canals of the remaining dead fish.



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Longboat Key News

4 Responses for “Town fights back at Red Tide”

  1. Gary Sell says:

    What about cleaning the beach, we are staying at the Seahorse . The fish are rotting, Smells real bad..

  2. Thomas Hoang says:

    A toxic sludge of decomposing fish not only pollutes the water and threaten other marine life, it can also cause havoc on LBK’s small businesses and tourist economy. The town should be proactive and pre-emptive in cleaning up this environmental hazard. This ought to be treated with the same alarm and urgency as an oil spill.

  3. julie richardson says:

    It’s back with a vengeance! Here on beautiful Longboat Key on vacation from the UK for 3rd year running and kept inside due to the terrible smell by the hundreds of dead fish on the beach and floating in the water. Left message with council pleading for a clear up but nothing yet. Would consider moving for the rest of our vacation if we could find any information at all on this current outbreak and how far it reaches! As a regular occurrence just can’t understand why nothing in place to jump on this and get it sorted. A lot of holidaymakers’ money at stake if they decide not to return because of lack of action! We honeymooned here 28 years ago, love the place and return each year, but being stuck inside when the weather is so lovely is very frustrating indeed!

  4. Patti Edwards says:

    They are working on the canels but how about the beach? One can hardly breath walking our lovely beach. What will it take to clean it up?

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