For the past few months, a massive red tide bloom has ravaged parts of Florida’s coast, including beaches in Sarasota County. The threat has been unrelenting, and it’s really hurting local businesses.
If you were in the mood for some waterfront dining, you would’ve had no trouble finding a seat at Pop’s Sunset Grill in Nokomis. At lunchtime, the restaurant was virtually empty.
“Yesterday we were giving people little dabs of Vick’s Vaporub to put in their nostrils so the smell wasn’t so bad!” said owner Joe Farrell.
Recently, revenue has dropped substantially because of the red tide bloom. The fish kills and awful stench are keeping customers away.
Summer is typically a slow season, since many snowbirds are up north. So businesses like Pop’s Sunset Grill rely on locals.
“For two miles inland, the smell was bad, last few days, that means they don’t leave their house. So every business is affected,” said Farrell.
All along the coastline, businesses are closed up and beaches are empty.
This algae bloom has lasted for roughly 10 months. Many are calling this an environmental crisis.
“It’s not fair to people who are coming over here and everything, especially people who come here and pay for this trip for four or five days, and their vacation is ruined,” said Oliver Markovic, a visitor from Canada.
Many business owners are fed up and demanding that the government fix this mess.
“It angers me because I’ve only seen research devoted to the effect of the red tide, rather than research devoted to the cause of the red tide,” said Farrell.
Some are worried about the future.
“It’s a multi-year process to get this fixed, so we gotta get this started sooner rather than later,” said Farrell. “I would love to see some money and effort and power put into the research into the cause and effect of the issue.”
Researchers say these blooms are natural, and historically some have lasted for even longer periods of time.