This red tide bloom has lingered off the Tampa Bay area for nearly a year now, and it has really put a damper on businesses during this extended holiday weekend.
But are things improving?
Conditions on Siesta Key have drastically improved compared to a few weeks ago. Businesses are hoping tourists come back quickly.
At Solorzano’s Pizzeria on Siesta Key, owner Phil Solorzano keeps making his pies, just hoping people will come in.
“Numbers-wise, we’re down like 80 percent, at least,” said Solorzano.
For months now, this area has been hammered by red tide and the number of tourists have washed up.
Many businesses are cutting hours and staff, just struggling to stay afloat.
Solorzano has been here for 15 years and said nothing has compared to this.
“We experienced slow seasons, red tide, but this red tide, its like a bomb went off man, it’s horrible,” said Solorzano.
Summer is typically a very slow season for Sarasota businesses. Solorzano is worried for his fellow business owners.
“Places don’t make it with the slow season because they don’t expect it. With this red tide, a lot of businesses will be going out of business,” he said.
But over at the beach, there’s a silver lining.
“No dead fish at all, literally the last three days it [has] gotten better every day,” said Michelle Egger from Michigan.
For the first time in weeks, no dead fish and no respiratory issues, but Siesta Beach is still very sparse compared to this time last year.
“Don’t be nervous, you gotta come back. It’s beautiful,” said Egger.
Solorzano is hoping this perception quickly vanishes.
“We’re showing people that its not that bad right now. It was bad, yes, we all know that, but its not like it was,” he said.
The state is offering interest-free loans to local small businesses who were hit hard by red tide. They have until Oct. 12 to apply.