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Red tide plagues beaches

Red tide was persistent starting in the summer of 2018 in Southwest Florida, from Collier County up through Pinellas County. Longboat Key and Sarasota were no exception.

The town not only monitored 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.

Longboat Key Public Works, Police and Fire Departments shared their daily assessments and coordinated 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 arisen is the policy that the town does not clean up private boat basins and commercial marinas. Brownman said several condominium/homeowner associations have contacted him to discuss the policy, but Brownman does not believe the policy has been an issue during this year’s 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 that only the Bay front beach on the northern tip of the island was closed to the public.  Many Longboat Key hotel and condominium owners also reported in the fall that the beaches were breathable with shoreline birds teaming and the silky sand free of rotting fish flesh.

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.

Mote Marine recieved a major grant to find solutions that are implementable to combat red tide. Mote created a research department to fuel the effort.

Many residents have implored the City and State to curtail nutrient runoff and stormwater runoff which has the effect of nourishing the blooms.

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Longboat Key News

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