Lonely lifeguards remain vigilant as red tide ravages Siesta Beach

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Siesta Beach is nearly empty. Only a few people can stand to be near the water. But throughout the stench and sting of red tide, lifeguards have remained.

"Usually at Siesta, they are very busy -- rescues, lost kids, first aid," explained lifeguard captain Roy Routh. "[Now] it's a lot slower, but it makes the day a lot longer, too. With the conditions being so horrible, it really makes for a long day."

Lifeguards are on the front line, being vigilant and helping visitors understand what's happening.   Instead of human rescues, they find themselves rescuing or recovering marine life. 

Thursday morning they pulled a large, dead turtle from the shoreline. 

"It's heartbreaking when you see the discoloration in the water and all the dead sea life. We love the gulf. We love the water. We love the sea life," said Routh. 

FULL COVERAGE: Florida's 2018 red tide bloom

To protect themselves, each lifeguard has been provided a respirator. 

"You don't really smell anything. When you're coughing and put the mask on it takes that irritation out so you're not coughing," Routh said. 

Some choose to go without, but the lifeguards don't complain. It's their job and they're just waiting for conditions to get back to normal. 

"It is what we do," added Routh.

Meanwhile, Sarasota County has issued 'no swim' advisories for five beaches, including Siesta Beach, but the beaches will remain open, so lifeguards will remain on-duty.