Conditions are improving throughout the town.
David Miller, owner of Cannons Marina, could not be happier.
“I was out on Sarasota Bay with my boat,” said Miller. “The water was getting color and there was no smell. It felt great.”
“It makes me glad I live here.”
Indeed. It appears red tide is leaving the Longboat Key area, where it has lingered offshore since early August killing sea life and keeping tourists away from the island. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's online map confirms what Miller experienced: most of its beachside reporting stations along the gulf coast are showing no trace of red tide.
For Miller’s business, which has been on Longboat for more than four decades, September was especially damaging to his bottom line. The business, which has 18 rental boats, rented one boat the entire month, Miller said.
“We were fortunate that that is normally a slow month for us.”
Harry Christensen reopened Harry’s Continental Kitchens for the season on Thursday, Oct. 11, while Harry’s Convenience store remained open during red tide. He said business recently has been brisk.
“It is a good thing it happened during the worst time of the year, but you deal with it as it comes,” he said.
“The weather is changing up north now, so they will be coming to Florida.”
Since Sept. 21, no dead sea life has been removed from Longboat’s 10 miles of beaches, said Public Works Director Isaac Brownman. Collection efforts were suspended on Oct. 12, the town’s web site said.
“The storms have helped,” he said of the wind and waves sent west from Hurricane Michael's offshore path.
To date, 183,320 pounds of sea life have been collected by the town's Public Woreks Department.
At its Oct. 15 commission meeting, Murray Bluegrass, a resident of Bay Isles and member of its condominium board, said the recent red tide outbreak was the worst he has experienced in 25 years on the island. He wanted to know why the town did not use an outside contractor to help with the clean-up. Brownman said the town did not use its recently purchased $130,000 grapple truck for beach remediation.
Commissioner Jim Brown said the town has previously spent as much as $400,000 to have a private contractor help remove the dead sea life, a cost it does not want to pass on to residents.
“We have 1,600 families and $980 million in real estate appraisals at Bay Isles,” said Bluegrass, who suggested implementing a tax to pay for future red tide clean-ups.
Both Brownman and Town Manager Tom Harmer will meet this week with Bay Isles condominium board members to discuss red tide and its subsequent remediation.