MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. -- On a day when the white sand on Manatee Beach would typically be covered with beach towels and umbrellas, there was a barely a soul in sight Saturday as thousands of dead fish continued to wash ashore.
- Red tide continues to worry Tampa-area beachgoers
- Visitors complain of watery eyes, scratchy throats
- Doctor weighs in on what precautions to take during red tide
The algae bloom called red tide is keeping visitors away and raising some health concerns.
"You come down here for vacation, and then you can look but you can't touch," visitor Maleri Schaer said.
Locals and tourists are being pushed out by dead marine life washing ashore from red tide.
"Lots of washed up, dead fish, snakes... This is the second dead sea turtle we've seen," Cynthia Woodall said.
Schaer said it's also irritating her throat, eyes and nose.
"It's kind of scary, because you're like, 'It's not going to affect me,' but you walk out there, and instantly, you get a scratchy throat and your eyes begin to water, and your nose is running," Schaer said.
Dr. Deepa Verma said these are all common symptoms associated with red tide. Although the smell is undeniable, she said you can't actually taste it.
"People could have coughing, sneezing, upper respiratory issues, and they might not know what happened, because the red tide toxin is not detectable. You can't taste it, so that's why you have to be careful when eating seafood," Verma said.
Verma said it's probably not a good idea to eat fish that was locally harvested or you caught yourself in areas with red tide. However, Verma said restaurant seafood should be OK.
"Those are typically commercially regulated, so they are inspected and have to pass tests, so those are clear to eat," Verma said.
Although the red tide was keeping many off the beach, visitors who did venture there said they're trying to make the best of it.
"It is ruining my vacation, but we're finding other things to do, and it's making us travel to different beaches to see what kind of marine life you're going to see when you get there, Schaer said. "Hopefully, you pick the lucky straw and you get a good beach."
Doctors say if you go into the water during a red tide, it's a good idea to wear goggles and cover up. Take the same precautions with your pets, they say.