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Dead fish buildup along Port Aransas beaches contribute to bitter-sweet travel experiences

Area businesses not directly affected, but ready following brutal winter storm
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Posted at 6:59 PM, Feb 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 20:31:14-05

PORT ARANSAS, Texas — As one of the many coastal cities still having to deal with the after-effects of last week’s winter storm, massive amounts of dead fish littering the tourism-based beachfronts of Port Aransas is leading many to not stick around.

Port Aransas city manager David Parsons said staff have been clearing their beaches since Monday, but that dead fish continue washing in with new tides. He said the cleanup will be a process, but anticipates areas to finished by the time spring break begins in March.

As for travelers — many of which out of state — their underwhelming experiences were not just a result of gray skies this Thursday.

“It’s definitely something that I was not expecting to see,” said Art Aguilar, from Tuscon, AZ. “There’s more sand than there are dead fish, but you don’t want to have them hanging out here too long — I don’t know if they’re going to start smelling.”

Betty and Howard Christman, a married couple from Grand Rapids, MN, said they have been renting a home in the city. They both agreed the area has seen better days.

“I thought maybe they’d come and clean up the fish, because the tide doesn’t appear to be taking them back out to sea,” Betty said, who said she spent much of her walk across the beach avoiding the dead fish. “It’s a beautiful area — it’s a shame.”

Overall, most looked to the bright side of their less-than-ideal travel plans.

“We were shocked to see how many dead fish, but it has been a learning experience for us,” said Angie Gulbranson, a mother from North Dakota visiting the area with her young children who are homeschooled and experiencing the ocean for the first time. “We can turn it into a learning experience — it’s fun regardless for us.”

The Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce said they trust that the city will be able to have their beaches ready come spring break. In term’s of local businesses, both hotels and restaurants have now recovered from the winter storm.

“Port Aransas has really come back and rebounding back to almost full operations,” said Brett Stawar, president and CEO of the Port Aransas Tourism Bureau and Chamber of Commerce. ”The demand is out there — the inspiration — the intent to travel it’s coming back to Port A and we feel like the next couple of weeks, and as we head into spring break season, we will have a Lotta visitors here to enjoy all the wonderful qualities we have.”