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Southwest Florida tourists head to St. Pete and Clearwater beaches despite red tide

Posted at 9:43 PM, Aug 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-09 23:21:23-04

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Dead fish, decomposing dolphins and sick sea turtles have been found along Southwest Florida's coast.

So far the algae bloom has not impacted beaches in Pinellas County like Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach.

"Not a fan. I'm a big fishermen, myself and my buddies. They live down south and they're sending me pictures and it's crazy, crazy," said Johnathon Tillis.

Tillis said he booked a hotel last minute on St. Pete Beach. He checked on the status of red tide before booking.

"Little skeptical about this red tide. We were actually thinking about going to West Palm to get way from it. We decided to give it a shot and see what happens," said Tillis.

FWC officials released the latest red tide report on Wednesday. It showed the bloom still present in Lee, Charlotte, Manatee and Sarasota counties. 

Keith Overton, President of Trade Winds Island Resorts on St. Pete Beach said his resort is fully booked this weekend, but it's typical for the weekend before school starts.

He recalled the last time red tide hit St. Pete Beach in 2005.

"We were literally with a tractor and a rake. We were raking up the dead fish up for days on end," said Keith Overton. 

Overton estimated about 50 reservations at his resort came from people who left Southwest Florida to get away from the red tide.

St. Pete and Clearwater Beach are open for business.

FWC officials are expected to release another red tide status update on Friday.

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