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Dead fish on the beach? Longboat Key leans on nature for cleanup.

The town of Longboat Key cleans up fish kills from red tide only after four tidal cycles fail to clear them.

As anyone on the Key knows, red tide is still here with uncertainty on when it will pack its bags for a while.

Karenia brevis is the naturally occurring organism that can lead to harmful algal blooms that cause red tide.

Because it is a naturally occurring, mostly ever-present organism, there is not much local officials can do to solve the issue or lessen its effects.

Town commissioners discussed what responsibilities they have when it comes to monitoring red tide, cleaning up dead fish and getting out information to concerned residents and visitors at their March 6 regular meeting.

“It’s affecting everybody I know that stays outside right now,” Commissioner Mike Haycock said. “I have gotten a number of complaints about fish kills and the smell from fish kills.”

Town Manager Howard Tipton said the amount of dead fish on the beaches and in the canals had not met the threshold for a cleanup using town resources.

However, on March 8, town staff sent an email notifying people of Manatee County’s plan to clean up the beaches for the entire 10-mile stretch of the island. The county raked the beach to help the town remove some of the dead sea life.