MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. -- From the beaches to canals, efforts to clean up dead fish killed by red tide are intensifying. Monday, Manatee County officials announced they need help from the public to clean up after paying $250,000 for contractors to do the job last week.
Asking people to volunteer is not sitting well with some neighbors we spoke to.
“I think that's crazy. it's just impossible. If I scoop over by my house, and then scoop an hour later, the fish are going to be back," one neighbor said.
Some say the fish are so decayed, they disintegrate when you try to scoop them up. Other residents like John Skipper who lives in Palmetto are fed up with the smell.
"As soon as you walk outside, bam! When the wind picks up, you can really smell it inside the house."
It's not much better in Sarasota where organizers of the annual Labor Day Regatta canceled the event altogether.
"Red tide was really bad in the beginning of August, and now it’s just lingering and not going away,” said manager Craig Bridges.
In a Facebook post, Bridges said canceling the event was one of the toughest decisions he’s had to make. He says they held out as long as they could.
It’s the first time in the regatta’s 72-year history that it’s been canceled due to red tide.
“It wouldn’t be fair to the sailors or their parents who bring them here. They were going to stay here while being in a bad situation,” Bridges said. “Then being out here on the water, it wouldn't be right. The whole thing wasn't right."
Something unique about the Sarasota Labor Day Regatta is that most of the competitors are high school aged or younger. This, as Forbes reports sailing across the U.S. is in decline, specifically among millennials.
"It's definitely not an issue here. We have five high school sailing teams in Sarasota. We have children turning out every year to be national sailors," Bridges said.
Bridges says the skills learned in sailing are invaluable.
"You learn a lot of independence. It is very science-orientated because you need to know weather patterns and things like that. You also need to know all types of geometry and physics."
Bridges and neighbors hope the lingering red tide clears out soon so they can reclaim their waterways again.
Bridges says the Sarasota Labor Day Regatta provides a quarter of the sailing squadrons profits for the year. He’s hoping to make up for the loss with two upcoming international sailing events set to be held in Sarasota this fall.
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