PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — A day before Thanksgiving and the unofficial start of their busy season, many business owners are thankful red tide levels are going down.
Since August the fish kills caused by the toxic bloom have created an image of Florida beaches that locals are still trying to shake off.
The red tide report released on Wednesday shows concentrations of the toxic algae on the decline.
“They hear red tide and think the entire area is affected,” Mike Shaner said.
Shaner works for the family business at Shaner’s Land and Sea Market in Pass-A-Grille.
The meat market and deli have been in business for more than 24 years. This year was one of their toughest.
"You know it sucks, but it’s something you have to deal with living on the West coast of Florida,” Shaner said. “We didn’t get hit as bad as some of the other areas down South. But, financially you know it’s hurt a lot of local businesses out here.”
The business sells locally sourced seafood. Even though Shaner says they don’t buy fish in areas impacted by red tide, customers still didn't believe them.
“People come in and they look at the case and they are like ‘oh this is local caught fish well there is red tide here we are not going to buy it.’ Well, no our fish comes from a hundred miles offshore,” Shaner would tell them. “But, they don't care.”
Shaner said even before red tide made it to Pinellas County, the images of dead dolphins, sea turtles, manatees, and other marine life, in other parts of the state made people believe it was happening everywhere, including Pinellas, when it wasn’t.
For the first time, in a long time, Shaner said things are looking up.
"This week we’ve been slammed all week, partially because of Thanksgiving that helps give us a shot in the arm selling turkeys all day,” Shaner said. “There’s people out the weathers been beautiful thankfully it’s been cool the waters cooled down a little bit which might have helped a little bit with red tide.
The business will be closed for the holiday and reopen on Friday.
“All family owned and operated come on down to Shaner’s Land and Sea we got the best meat in St. Pete,” Shaner said.