Customers disappear from Siesta Key

- Governor Scott announced Wednesday another three million dollars to help counties dealing with red tide but some businesses may never be able to fully recover.

Many rely on the last few weeks before Labor Day to get them through a slow period.

On Siesta Key, the beaches have become a ghost town and so have many of the local restaurants and businesses that rely on those beach visitors.

By lunchtime, you normally have to wait to be seated at Big Water Fish Market. Now you can choose your own table.

“It's scared everybody away for a long period of time," Big Water Fish Market’s owner Scott Dolan said. “Which is different from a hurricane that you know is coming and leaving. We don't really have an answer of how long this is going to hang around.”

LINK: More red tide algae detected off Pinellas coast

Dolan stocks his cases daily with fresh fish caught offshore, 30 to 40 miles away from the red tide bloom.

“One guarantee is that nobody is selling fish that is affected by the red tide. There's lots of ocean out there. There's the Atlantic side and you just fish around the affected areas,” he explained.

Red tide has run people off Siesta Key's beaches and away from the businesses that rely on tourism.

Dolan has seen a drop in business of 50 percent compared to this time last year.

“It's definitely not appetizing to see dead fish on the beach,” Dolan acknowledged.

He's not the only one hurting.

Red tide FAQ: What is it, and where does it come from?

“I have a lot of product with a purpose that are helping the oceans and made with recycled material. Once the red tide hit, you can't even get locals to come across the bridge because the smell and respiratory is so awful for them,” said Sunshine and Sand Hidden Treasures Owner Dawn Henson

Henson opened her shop last November. Before the bloom, business was booming.

Now she says, “A good day, I would maybe have two sales.”

Henson and others were relying on the last few weeks of summer tourism before a September slowdown. Now they are just working to make it through.

“This too shall pass,” she said. “I'll make it. I'm just not sure how yet. We are all just in the same boat at this point.”

In an effort to get people back to the key, some store owners said they are running special promotions and deals right now to drum up business.

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