Business, outdoor activity returning as red tide lingers on Brevard County coast

Volunteers remove tens of thousands of dead fish from beaches

MELBOURNE BEACH, Fla. – As golfers teed off with beautiful skies and breathable air, Spessard Holland Golf Course was much busier Monday than it was during the past two weeks, when golfers say red tide made playing conditions miserable. 

"The little bit of breeze, cooler weather is really nice right now," golfer Dewayne Coleman said on the course Monday.

Coleman said that, when he played in previous weeks, golfers were constantly coughing.

"It got heavier and heavier. We started getting cancellations. We probably lost 20 percent, 25 percent of our play," golf course manager Mark Eberle said.

Almost 100 percent of tens of thousands of dead fish are finally off 15 miles of county beaches.

Like the golf course, beach businesses are now hoping to bounce back during this break from red tide conditions.

Steve Haggerty, of Robburittos on Ocean Avenue, said his restaurant experienced its worst two weeks of sales since he became the owner in February.

The restaurant even put a mask on its mannequin, named Bambi, that greets customers.

"We had to go buy her a little mask. She's a trooper, so she's out here doing her job," Haggerty said.

The county's job of monitoring red tide continues to be weekly testing in the ocean and the Indian River Lagoon.

In its latest results, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported a high level of red tide in the Indian River, 2 miles north of Sebastian Inlet.

"This whole economy is tourism, OK? And tourism is water. If you don't have water, you don't have any tourism," golfer Jerry Gibala said. "You would think we'd have clean water and be able to protect our environment a lot better than what we're doing."

Keep Brevard Beautiful, whose volunteers removed dead fish from beaches over the weekend, reported no new fish kills Monday. 

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