TAMPA — Guests at the Best Western Hotel near the Courtney Campbell Parkway sat on their balconies Wednesday and strolled along the seawall at sunset despite being only a few feet from hundreds of dead fish that washed in from the bay.
"(The smell) is not so bad today," Army Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Martin said. "But it was really bad yesterday."
The fish have been washing up near businesses on the causeway and public beaches ever since the cold snap two weeks ago, said Linda Carlo, a Tampa parks spokeswoman.
"It was a banner day for dead fish," she said.
Ben T. Davis Beach and another city park, Cypress Point, had "a boatload of fish just washed up on the shore," Carlo said.
The city sent parks workers to clean up those messes, but it's less clear who is responsible for cleaning up near businesses.
State Sen. Charlie Justice said he was contacted by the Best Western's manager.
"He's got hotel guests that are leaving the place because of the stench," said Justice, D-St. Petersburg. "It's like the classic runaround."
Justice said they've tried the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Hillsborough County Commission and the Environmental Protection Commission to no avail.
"Everyone's pointing a finger at everyone else saying we don't have anyone to clean up the beach," Justice said. "If 1,000 fish were dumped in the middle of the Courtney Campbell Causeway, somebody would find someone to pick it up."
Carlo said it's not up to the city to clean up at businesses. Justice said he has been working with the county Health Department and making more contacts to find help.
But some people still came out Wednesday evening to dine outdoors at local restaurants and enjoy the view — even if it included dead fish.
Martin, who is visiting from Nashville, said having the dead fish wash up near his first floor room hasn't ruined his experience or changed his opinion of Tampa.
"It's still pretty beautiful out here right now," he said.
Robbyn Mitchell can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3373.