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Longboat battles fish kills as red tide washes ashore

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

The bloom of red tide that has decimated fish and sea life populations to the south of Sarasota has officially crept north bringing tons of dead fish to Longboat’s shoreline.

What started as unfortunate reports of hundreds of dead sea turtles, a dead whale washing and other incidents in Collier County has shifted to logs by Longboat Key town staff quantifying how many tons of fish are being removed on a daily basis from canals and beaches.

According to Town Manager Tom Harmer we are more fortunate than some areas and he told Longboat Key News that the smell of rotting fish is most pervasive as one drives from St. Armands Circle over the bridge toward City Island. The proximity of the road to the bay at that location likely exacerbates that sensation. Harmer said there are intermittent dead fish floating in the bay and the water is discolored and that has him “concerned.”

The town started removing dead fish last week and on Aug. 6, Longboat Key Public Works worked to clear an area near the Linley Street Public Boat Ramp on the north end of the key. On that day, town Public Works Staff collected 3,960 pounds of dead sea life.

The next day, the Public Works crew worked to clear nine canals on the south end of the island on the bay side including Ketch and Halyard Lanes. On that day, the town collected 5,540 pounds of dead sea life.

On Aug. 8, there was far less dead fish to collect in the canals north of Halyard and the town removed 940 pounds.

Harmer said the town is carefully monitoring the Gulf side of the island and is essentially at the mercy of the wind, tides and weather. Harmer says that a strong easterly or northerly wind would drive the algae away and help break it up. Conversely, on shore winds will only drive the fish toward the Gulf beaches. Another concern for the town is that a series of major high tides are predicted in the coming days and that could help or exacerbate the problem. The town is also watching to see where the fish are accumulating and will continue to remove them in the upcoming days. In essence, the town waits until a significant accumulation occurs as it cannot simply run out every time a few dead fish are spotted.

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Longboat Key News

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