SIESTA KEY, FL (WWSB) - Siesta Key's white sugar sand beaches are now layered with a brown film. The crystal clear water has turned green. The gulf's animated marine life now lay lifeless in the sand.
"I've never seen red tide linger as long as it has," said Paul Nesser, lifelong Sarasota resident.
In Manatee County, Mote Marine Laboratory reports dark waters along Anna Maria Island, with heavy dead fish on Coquina Beach. Mote's latest report shows the water remains dark at Venice Beach, but the number of dead fish has gone down drastically. Sarasota County staff continue to pick up dead fish along the water front, collecting more than 66 tons since August 1st.
"This is a beautiful beach, it's still very beautiful. We just want to protect it," explained Nesser.
Mote's Beach Conditions Report found beach goers are still experiencing moderate to intense respiratory irritation from Anna Maria down to Manasota Beach. Despite the sneezing and coughing, some say it's hitting wildlife the hardest.
"I've been watching all of the videos that people have posted of the dolphins and manatees and sea turtles. It makes me very, very sad," said Adrienne Miceli-Trask, who is a Sarasota resident and organizer of the Hands Along the Water event.
While conditions have improved at some local beaches, activists are trying to grab the attention of state leaders, by holding hands in solidarity.
"It's a peaceful gathering to promote awareness to defend our Florida wildlife and waters," said Miceli-Trask.
Activists across the state gathered on beaches like Siesta, Manasota, and Venice to hold hands along the water for 15 minutes Sunday, demanding action from state officials.
"Doing nothing is no longer an option. We have to work together to protect our natural resources...so that we can continue to live in Florida for generations," said Rep. Margaret Good.
Demonstrators believe Sarasota's award-winning beaches and their parking lots will remain nearly empty until state leaders make a change.
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