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Scent of red tide diminishes on island

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

One could aptly call it a sigh or perhaps a breath of relief that the stinging stench of red tide has wafted away from our shores following the recent rains and afternoon winds.

And while red tide continues to persist in Southwest Florida, from Collier County up through Pinellas County, Longboat Key has been in “good condition” relative to odor and dead sea life for the past several days according to town staff.

In fact, the town is not only monitoring the situation daily for dead fish and concentrations of red tide, it has done so since Aug. 2, when the effects of the algae bloom were first observed in both the Bay and Gulf.

The town Public Works, Police and Fire Departments share their daily assessments and coordinate their efforts with nearby cities regarding both resources and options for cleaning up the hundreds of thousands of pounds of dead fish that have accumulated on shorelines and in canals and estuaries.

Town Public Works Director Isaac Brownman said that staff has been successful in clearing the entire Gulf side as well as the Bay side canals on an as-needed basis.

One issue that has floated back is the policy that the town does not clean up private boat basins and commercial marinas. Brownman says several condominium/homeowner associations have contacted him to discuss the policy, but Brownman does not believe the policy has been an issue during this red tide event.

Brownman said he and staff are looking into past cleanups and will be updating future red tide plans to ensure consistency.

Anna Maria Island has also seen diminishing concentrations and it was announced Friday that only the Bay front beach on the  northern tip of the island is closed to the public.  Many Longboat Key hotel and condominium owners have reported that the beaches are now breathable with shoreline birds teaming and the silky sand free of rotting fish flesh.

Brownman said staff will continue monitoring because although the effects of red tide may be gone, the bloom still exists and is only offshore and more pronounced to the north right now.

The last day Public Works crews cleaned up a significant amount of dead sea life was on Sept. 5 when about 620 pounds were removed primarily from mid-key. No dead sea life accumulations have been found since. To date, the town has collected and removed more than 165,000 pounds of dead sea life and materials.

Due to the small maneuvering space in canals, the fish clean up has been done with nets and boats by hand. The town suggests some homeowners and associations may want to work with local fisherman for a more thorough cleaning of any remaining fish. The town says such an effort is completely voluntary.

The town’s website, www.longboatkey.org, has a list of local fisherman and their contact information The list also contains the location of numerous public dumpsters where dead fish can be deposited for free. For more information or help in removing and disposing of fish, call the town Public Works Department at 941-316-1988.

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