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Florida Governor Rick Scott's recent decision to declare a state of emergency in seven counties due to red tide that's killed thousands of marine animals, hurt hundreds of businesses and left a putrid stench near southwestern coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico has sparked a flurry of action up and down the coast.
Gov. Scott released $1.5 million in funds, with $900,000 going to Lee County to clean up fish, $500,000 to Visit Florida to combat the visual images of dead marine life and $100,000 to Mote Marine and local scientists to save distressed animals.
"We are receiving calls for reservations for the next 30 to 90 days and we're getting inquiries about red tide somewhat sporadically," said Paul Andrews, General Manager at Shephard's Beach Resort.
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"Many callers surprisingly seem to be well informed," Andrews added. "We have not experienced any cancellations due to red tide as of yet. Conversely, we have received several new reservations from people who had canceled their trip due to the outbreak."
While northern Pinellas County hasn't been affected as much, the same can't be said for their neighbors to the south. Sarasota and Manatee counties have been pummeled by the effects of red tide.
According to the Bradenton Herald, as of August 17th, the cleanup has been expanded to canals and smaller waterways and over 150 tons of red tide waste has been removed from beaches and public parks.
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"We didn't know what to expect," said Ben Conlon, the manager of Shore St. Armand's. "When you can start to smell it, you get nervous. It definitely affected us. So, our sales were down and definitely did hurt us. We were down a good amount every day last week and because we have so much open-air dining, it truly does affect us."
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Cover photo courtesy of Unsplash