Charlotte County businesses hope fewer red tide conditions persist

Some businesses are back after their customers were scared off by weeks of toxic red tide in parts of Southwest Florida.

We were in Englewood Monday, where the water was free of dead fish, bad odor and respiratory irritation. It was the first time in weeks there was no sign of red tide.

Mother nature picked a good weekend to cooperate, as businesses needed a boost and benefited from the Labor Day weekend.

“Last week, you know, you couldn’t even drive a boat back here,” said captain Riley Fauteux with Beach Road Water Sport. “There was so much fish floating under these docks. It was so thick you couldn’t even bear it. You know, it was nasty.”

“Today, it’s looking a lot better” Fauteux said.

Fauteux was thrilled to see more sea vessels in Lemon Bay. For the first time in weeks, fellow captains were customers.

“Throughout the weekend, we did about 15 boat rentals,” Fauteux said. “Typically, on Labor Day weekend, we’re looking at almost 30.”

“Typically the tables would be full, and there would be the hustle and bustle,” said Tracy Warren, the general manager of Beach Road Wine Bar and Bistro.

But the crew at the bistro did not have that hustle and bustle that would normally take place, since red tide forced Warren to close the restaurant for two weeks. She plans to take the closed signs down Wednesday.

“Every day we stay closed, it’s definitely, you know, thousands a day that we’re losing,” Warren said.

Both businesses we spoke to already lost out quite a bit in 2021 due to a stormy summer and a COVID-19 resurge. They hope their customer base goes up and red tide levels go down.

“It seems like it’s moving in the right direction and seems like it’s getting better,” Fauteux said.

A scientist with FGCU’s The Water School recently told us, just because we can’t see or smell the dead fish, doesn’t mean red tide is gone. That depends on the wind direction and changes with the circulation patterns, which are all driven by the tides.

Reporter:Erika Jackson
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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