Increased red tide levels detected on Sarasota County beaches

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ENGLEWOOD - Dead fish are causing a stink and respiratory problems at Blind Pass in Englewood.

Thousands of dead mullet line the beach, apparently victims of red tide. Crews are working quickly to pick them all up.

There are "Lots of dead fish. Lots of dead fish." says Olympia from North Port. There are thousands of them and it’s believed to be the result of red tide.

This is the third major fish kill in south Sarasota County this year, and longtime beachgoers say they've not seen it this bad. "Not like this. I've seen dead fish out here but not that many. A visual and smelly mess. It stinks. I am sorry. It stinks. Wheezing, coughing, and hacking making an appearance too. I am getting a runny nose, coughing, my eye burns," says mark Hayes who is visiting from Pennsylvania.

The fish started rolling in Christmas night says Parks and Recreation Manager George Tatge, and work crews plan to be there for a couple days. "It is something we have to respond to immediately. Fortunately, we work with the sheriff's office and they provide the work offenders."

They are using cheap labor to lessen the impact during the busy tourist season. "It is really important to us in the county. We understand the values of the beaches in the community. We want to keep them clean and as perfect as we can."

Something else that strikes many here as odd is the fact that nearly all the fish appear to be large mullet. "That is what we are seeing today. That is different than a lot of our red tide events. Normally we see several different species of fish and today we are seeing one."

They are holding their breath and nose, hoping that more dead sea life will not start littering other area beaches anytime soon.

While dead fish are currently only being found in Englewood, red tide is being detected as far north as Turtle Beach in Sarasota.

Sarasota County Health Department officials say those with respiratory issues should stay away from beaches impacted.

You can find the beach condition report at www.mote.org/beaches