CLEARWATER BEACH (FOX 13) - It's what many have been dreading: Red tide has made it's way to Clearwater Beach.
Saturday morning, crews spent several hours cleaning up dead fish from the beach. Despite the effects of the toxic algae, people still hit the sand and swam in the water.
City officials were surprised but glad to see so many people still spending their Saturday on the beach despite the dead fish and strong odor around them. People we spoke with say they’re simply trying to make the best of it.
Clearwater Beach is now the latest area to be hit with red tide.
“Not only is it the best beach, but the best hotels," Andrea Lawson said. "You don’t even want to get in the water.”
Dead fish after dead fish washed ashore. The worst of it came early Saturday morning when city crews first started cleaning up.
“There was a pretty big size fish kill," City of Clearwater Public Information Officer Jason Beisel said. "Mostly concentrated in North beach and sand key. Crews got here. Cleaned it up, but they realized there was also a strong odor and some respiratory issues affecting them so they had to wear some masks.”
A team of 15 people worked from 5 a.m. to noon removing dead fish from the beach using large bulldozers. All of the waste collected was taken to the Pinellas County landfill.
Tourists, like Robin Gay, came all the way from Maryland to vacation. She initially planned to go Siesta Key, but because of the red tide, she switched her plans to come to Clearwater unaware the toxic algae would be here.
“Hopefully it’s not going to get any worse than it is now," Gay said. "So it’s still beautiful it’s a beautiful day I don’t see any problem as of now.”
Beisel has been working with other area beaches dealing with the same issue, gaining insight on how to tackle to the problem.
So far, he says business isn’t suffering.
“We're not seeing any really major impacts on tourism," Beisel said. "Of course, we rely on tourism. That’s our number one industry here in Florida so we are going to do everything we can to keep this beach clean.”
For now, the city has been able to handle the clean-up efforts themselves. They haven’t had to contract out of the work just yet, but that could change. They say they’ll be closely monitoring the situation for the next several days and clean-up as needed.