There was relief from rotting fish and the stench of red tide in the air throughout bayside Longboat Key canals over the weekend.
Town Manager Dave Bullock approved the cleanup of thousands of fish that were littering the waterways.
After inspecting several Longboat Key bayside canals Nov. 18, Bullock authorized the use of some of a $50,000 budget line item for red tide cleanup to get rid of the dead fish. The bill for the cleanup was not due until after press time.
A debris contractor started the cleanup Saturday in Bay Isles, working its way south to Country Club Shores before finishing work around 11:30 a.m. Sunday at Longboat Harbour. Fish were scooped up and transported to a Bradenton landfill. Combined, Public Works Project Manager Mark Richardson estimates approximately 6,000 pounds of dead fish and seaweed was removed from the waterways,
Medium concentrations of red tide in Manatee and Sarasota counties have been reported over the last month.
Capt. Wayne Genthner, a longtime fishing captain of Wolfmouth Charters, monitors red tide closely off the shores of Longboat Key because he has to know where to avoid red tide blooms during fishing excursions.
Genthner said there’s just “a thin strip off the beach right now of red tide algae bloom” that’s easy to go in and out of by boat for fishing purposes.
“I’m not too concerned about it, and it’s nothing like the outbreak we had a few years ago,” Genthner said. “For the most part, the fish are still swimming and the birds are still flying.”
Although fish kills for the red tide outbreak off the coast is labeled minor for the most part, Genthner and Bullock believe the main reason for the severity of the fish kills on the bayside is the strong easterly winds that churned the fish up last week and brought them into bayside canals and onto Beer Can Island.
“When the winds shift and we get some rain, it helps, too,” Bullock said.
The town does not clean up minor fish kills from its shores but will offer assistance for moderate to severe fish kills if Bullock deems it necessary.
After receiving complaints and emails from Country Club Shores residents and assessing the situation Wednesday, Bullock agreed “it’s pretty nasty out there right now.”
In an email to the Longboat Key Town Commission, Bullock wrote “it is very unpleasant for the residents and visitors to that area of the island.”
The most affected area was Country Club Shores, and Bullock recommended residents remove their boats from the canals if possible so the contractor could do a more effective fish cleanup.
“We’re glad it’s over, and the community is pleased the fish were removed,” said Country Club Shores resident and Commissioner Lynn Larson.