It doesn't matter where you go in Manatee and Sarasota Counties, you're going to see it. Dead fish and eel just lingering and the smell is just awful.
Many local businesses we talked to say people are associating this fish with the kind they're eating, but they say that's far from the truth.
On any nice breezy summer day, restaurants on the water like The Old Salty Dog in Sarasota would be packed. Instead, there was an empty parking lot with no customers.
“The word is out and I think people are scared of it and aren't going to risk it,” says manager Dave Sims. He tells us a few days ago, the smell was so bad, they weren't able to even stand on the dock, but the wind is helping
“When we have a nice breeze like this, it makes it really tolerable,” he says.
But aside from the stench, the fear of eating contaminated fish is also hurting businesses..
The red tide also kills the same game fish we enjoy eating, such as grouper and snook.
But Sims says fishermen go well offshore in the Gulf to make their catch, many going north off of Pinellas and further up.
“So, the fish for us is certainly edible and well inspected. We wouldn't serve anything that would be in harm's way regarding the tide.”
A new study done by Sarasota County's tourism office shows 90 percent of tourism-related businesses lost customers because of red tide.
“I haven't seen it in well over a decade this bad,” Sims says.
He wants his customers to know that businesses need the support now, more than ever.
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