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Sarasota Officials: Worst Of Red Tide May Have Passed

dead fish on a beach
Mote Marine Laboratory

The worst of the red tide in Sarasota County may have passed. That's the word from county officials, who say fewer dead fish washed ashore Thursday.

Sarasota County officials said they have removed more than 127 tons of dead fish from public beaches and boat ramps.

But they also said beaches in the northern part of the county seem to be recovering from the worst of red tide, and only minor fish kills have been reported at their southern beaches.

Still, Erin Duggan, vice president of Visit Sarasota County, said during a Facebook Live chat that hotels and restaurants along the beach are suffering.

"We are getting reports of cancellations, concerns for future bookings," she said. "I think the last survey we saw, when we compared week-over-week from this year and last year, we had partners reporting anywhere between a 5 and a 10 percent decrease. So we do realize that the industry tourism is hurting."

Duggan says some money coming from Gov. Scott's emergency declaration will be used to market the county's tourist attractions after the red tide recedes. The governor declared a state of emergency earlier this week for counties from southwest Florida up to Pinellas and Hillsborough. Earlier this week, the City of Sarasota also declared a state of emergency.

Red tide is toxic algae that have persisted off Florida's Gulf Coast for nearly a year. In recent weeks, the algae bloom has worsened, killing fish, turtles and dolphins and discouraging tourism on some of the state's most visited beaches.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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