Venice residents fed up after three months of red tide
VENICE (FOX 13) - On both sides of the Venice jetties, people stay clear of the water as dead fish wash ashore.
"This parking lot is empty. I've been down here for the last week and it's a ghost town," said Fred Reisen.
When parking lots in Venice and Nokomis are vacant, businesses like Cool Breeze Boat and Jet Ski Rental struggle.
"That's the first thing they ask when they call us: How the red tide smells. After we tell them, because we don't want to lie to them, they don't want to come out," said Karlin Jeffery.
Jeffery understands why no one wants to get in the water.
"I went out yesterday on the jet ski. Water splashed me and I felt disgusting," he said.
The red tide bloom has moved on and off the shore in Venice for the last three months. Shop owners and residents have had enough.
"I'm angry. We moved here for a reason. People come here for a reason. It's beautiful. The waters normally can be beautiful," said Shawna Ulrich.
As Ulrich waits for customers at Gulf Harbor Marina, dead fish continue to pile up.
"Nobody wants to get in the water, nobody wants to be out in the water or near the water. It's horrible. It's hurting everyone. Economically it's killing everybody," said Ulrich.
Scientists said the red tide is naturally occurring, but this is one of the worst many people can remember.
"I know that I've been here all my life and it's usually just once a season for no more than two weeks. Now it's every year and sometimes last year it's been off and on for six months," said Stormy Kennedy.
It seems to be made worse by a separate toxic algae bloom, which many believe is the result of runoff from Lake Okeechobee. It's a one-two punch that has left many frustrated and asking for help.
"I just plead to everyone to understand that research needs to be done. Something needs to be done to stop this red tide," said Kennedy.
LINK: You can check the beach conditions of our area by visiting www.visitbeaches.org