SIESTA KEY, Fla. (WFLA) — Some beachgoers in Sarasota County are dealing with scratchy throats, trouble breathing and the odor of dead fish caused by red tide.
The Florida Department of Health first alerted the public about elevated levels of red tide in Sarasota County in mid-October.
“It’s really sad to see all the fish dying,” William Howell said. “Never experienced it this bad. You know, with the red tide. It’s like an itch in your throat when you’re walking down the beach but it’s still beautiful.”
Michael Gross is the director of Operations for the Venice Pier Group that runs the concessions stand at Siesta Key Beach.
“Lot of out-of-towners,” he said, “they’re going to go to the beach regardless but not staying as long. Certainly, it’s not ideal for a holiday weekend.”
Visiting from Massachusetts, Carolyn Lindsey said she could feel the effects of red tide throughout her vacation for the holiday weekend.
“The other day when we were at the beach lot of people coughing, we started coughing,” Lindsey said. “But it didn’t stop us from enjoying the sun down here.”
The Florida Department of Health collected its weekly water samples at all 16 beaches in Sarasota County on Monday morning. An update on the red tide levels is expected by Thursday.
Gross said he is hopeful conditions will continue to improve as more people travel to the popular destination in December.
“Better today,” Gross said. “The wind change certainly helped. We’re noticing it’s clearing up a lot from where it was yesterday.”
Health officials say people with chronic respiratory issues, such as asthma, should consider staying away from beaches with high levels of red tide.
If your symptoms do not get better after leaving the beach, you’re advised to contact your doctor for a check-up.