CHARLOTTE COUNTY - A Red Tide bloom off the coast of Charlotte and Sarasota Counties has killed thousands of fish. The stench kept people away during a time when the beaches should be packed.
"This all showed up at once. We showed up on the beach on Tuesday morning and found dead fish on the beach," said George Tatge with Sarasota County Parks and Recreation.
Thursday's weather conditions along Englewood Beach and further North did not help the fishy situation or the smell. Clean-up crew worked for hours at Blind Pass Beach on Manasota Key after thousands of fish washed on shore, killed by the Red Tide toxins.
"We have a strong wind out of the West and some waves which is causing the red tide to get into the air," said Tatge.
Mullet Fish are not the only ones affected. Shore birds are also in danger from eating contaminated fish. It's also a problem for beach goers
"We did notice as soon as we got out. We all started coughing and stuff. Got an itch right here," said visitor Chris Mowl.
Maryanne Ellis, a visitor from Cincinnati, Ohio said she had no idea what she was walking into.
"We just came to spend the day at the beach. As soon as we crossed over the bridge we started coughing and I said I think it might be Red Tide," Ellis said.
And while the fish kill didn't deter surfers like Chris Overholt.
"There's a couple of drifters here and there. Sometimes you step on a couple," he said.
Many other visitors didn't stay long.
"We're gonna head elsewhere. This is pretty bad," Ellis stated.
The bloom has been detected from Sarasota County through mid-Lee County.