Hurricane Matthew helps clean up red tide in Tampa Bay beaches

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – On Monday, many beaches in Sarasota County were pristine – free from dead fish and red tide; and officials are thanking Hurricane Matthew for the help.

Since Sept. 19, dead fish have been washing ashore onto beaches in Longboat Key. In just the past two weeks, officials have removed 47 tons of dead fish from the Longboat Key coastline. But Town Manager Dave Bullock says over the past few days the situation has drastically improved.

In fact, on Monday morning nearby beaches were clear of dead fish, the water was pristine and people were frolicking in the water. Also, Bullock says there have been no reports of respiratory problems. It’s as if the red tide is a distant memory.

“When there’s a significant wind event, it seems to somehow break up the patches of red tide,” explained Bullock. “We’re thanking Matthew, whether it was Matthew or not I don’t know, but we’ll give Matthew credit.”

A spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission explained that a storm can impact the movement of the red tide. The winds blowing on the surface and the changing currents below can play a role in dispersing the harmful algae. Beachgoers noticed a clear difference on Monday morning.

“Much better. Look – no dead fish, people are back out on the beach, walking out in the morning and you don’t smell anything,” said beachgoer Georgina Graham.

“Oh, it’s beautiful. The water has its color back.The blue had gone away completely. It’s wonderful to see it back like this,” said beachgoer Mike Adkinson.

“If you got plans to come to the beach on Longboat Key this is a pretty good time to do it. We just hope we don’t have any more of these outbreaks of red tide,” Bullock said.

FWC researchers are continuing to do water tests on beaches throughout the area. Some results released Monday afternoon show there are still some traces of red tide in beaches from Pinellas County down to Sarasota.

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