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Mom and Pop Pinellas beach hotel owners scream, ‘red tide not here’

Pinellas County

New sampling results show lower concentrations of red tide off the Sarasota coast.

Manatee and Pinellas County are faring better, too.

Crews are putting the final touches on the nourishment project on Indian Rocks beach.  

It can’t come soon enough for Lynn Timberlake, owner of the 4-unit Cay Pointe Villa.

“We have not had a hint of red tide here,” said Timberlake.

The false perception that red tide is everywhere is turning away customers.

“This time last year, I was 100 percent booked for the month of September.  And right now, I am less than 30 percent,” said Timberlake.

Red tide isn’t gone. Kim Johnson shot pictures of dead fish in Madeira Beach.

Johnson said it smelled horrible.

But new maps show red tide in low concentrations here and medium concentrations at Redington and Sunshine Beach.

“They think that we’re wading dead fish, knee deep and it’s not the case,” said Katrena Hale, owner of the Sand Glo Villa in Indian Shores.

“The whole entire nation, the whole entire area really believes that Pinellas County is impacted.  And we’re not,” said Hale.

Long-time customers visit, but inquiries are way down from locals.

“This is the first year, 18 years, I had not one phone call the week before the holiday,” said Hale.

Pinellas County has a new tact to prevent fish from washing ashore. It is hiring a contractor to go out into the Gulf, a mile from Clearwater Beach, and pick up dead fish before they get ashore.

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