PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. -- Crews tasked with cleaning up dead sea life from Pinellas County beaches are standing down.

  • Crews end red tide cleanup operations
  • Officials say conditions have drastically improved
  • Business owners hope tourists return

It's possible that the worst of red tide in the Tampa Bay area is over.

"The contractor has been out there every day and it’s only been the last few days that the contractor has been able to breakdown, demobilize, and we’ve ceased operations," county spokesperson Tony Fabrizio said.

Over the past week, county officials say that red tide conditions have improved drastically. The most recent water samples show medium concentrations of the organism that causes red tide in the very southern tip of the county.

Officials say recent satellite images show the bloom moving south.

"I just hope everyone can pull through it," said Don Sichling, owner of Laska Surf in John's Pass. "I want the businesses to survive."

Hubbard's Marina, also located on John's Pass, has been hit hard since the bloom moved in nearly five months ago.

"It's been really tough cutting back hours. People need to work, especially with Christmas coming up," Capt. Dylan Hubbard said.

Both business owners are hoping that the winter months will bring tourists to the area accompanied by a boost in sales.

The latest report from Florida Fish and Wildlife shows that concentrations of the organism that causes red tide are steadily decreasing in Manatee County. Conditions in Sarasota County are still variable with dead fish washing up on some area beaches on Sunday.