As the weekend approaches, red tide isn’t showing signs of moving away from Manatee County shores, and some companies are starting to see the effects.
On a typical weekend at Bungalow Beach Resort on Anna Maria Island, rooms are full. But this weekend is different. Two or three rooms are available, said Gayle Luper, owner of the resort at 2000 Gulf Dr. N. in Bradenton Beach.
It’s not just rooms left empty over the usually packed weekend time.
“We’ve experienced some cancellations,” Luper said. In general, she added, they work with guests to move their deposit to another date or leave the credit on their account.
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In 20 years of resort ownership, Luper has seen the effects of red tide before. She specifically recalled 2001 and 2005.
“It’s unfortunate but it does happen along our coasts,” Luper said.
After talking to others in the hotel business, Luper said that the concentration and severity of red tide seem to be making a difference on cancellations.
Beach House Real Estate, which handles rental properties on Anna Maria Island, is seeing some decline in reservations, too, and is working with those who have already made reservations to move those dates as well.
Amanda Cornett, manager of Beach House Real Estate, said last weekend that people were calling from Venice and Englewood trying to get reservations on Anna Maria Island, but then the red tide showed up here.
Cornett said she is also answering a lot of questions from guests, mostly about the conditions outside and for swimming.
“Right now, it’s not terrible,” Cornett said. “Oddly enough, I don’t smell it and we’re a block from the beach.”
Luper said at Bungalow Beach Resort, they have been advising guests not to swim out of an abundance of caution, but continue to give them a list of other things to do on the island such as trolley rides, mini golf and a few ice cream shops.
“They find other things to do like Mote Marine and go out to dinner and sometimes just snuggling in the room is a good thing,” Luper said.
Red tide is still here
On the Gulf of Mexico beaches of Anna Maria Island on Thursday morning, dark green waves lapped at the sand and the smell of dead fish was evident in the wind.
The bay side of the island, however, had calm waters that appeared clearer than those in the Gulf. But a few dead fish littered the beach near Rod ‘n’ Reel pier and a few had washed ashore at a Coquina boat ramp.
Over by where the Anna Maria Island City Pier used to stand, there wasn’t a dead fish in sight.
Gulf beaches were mostly empty around 10 a.m., with few people setting up chairs and even fewer daring to step foot in the water.
At the Rod ‘n’ Reel Pier, a dozen people stood staring at a group of manatees that had gathered in the shallow waters. More lined the shores taking pictures and video of the handful of manatees on their phones.
Thursday morning, there were some dead fish on the shorelines of the Manatee Public Beach.
Manatee County’s afternoon update on beach conditions showed the bay side beaches had small amounts of fish and county staff would be cleaning the beaches as needed.
Mote Marine Laboratory’s red tide conditions map for Manatee Public Beach reported moderate water color and heavy dead fish just before 3 p.m. Thursday. Reports for Coquina Beach showed dark water color and heavy dead fish as of 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
Through a collaboration between the University of South Florida and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, red tide forecasters are calling for a reversal from northern to southern transport of surface waters and southeastern movement of subsurface waters over the next few days.
Light but westerly winds could carry any persistent odor of dead fish inland, according to Bay News 9 meteorologist Diane Kacmarik. Winds are expected to stay between 5 and 10 mph as an on-shore sea breeze before shifting west by the afternoon.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported Wednesday water samples taken from seven locations in Manatee County contained low to high concentrations of the Florida red tide organism, Karenia brevis.
In 40 samples from Sarasota County, there were background to high concentrations.
Nine dead dolphins have been recovered from waters near Sarasota County since Tuesday, according to Mote Marine Laboratory officials. Necropsies are being performed to determine the cause of death for all the dolphins found.
Manatee County Government is also updating red tide conditions on its website. All Manatee County beaches are open and signs will be posted at affected beaches.