Florida beaches close after red tide confirmed on Atlantic coast

File photo: UPI

Oct. 5 (UPI) — Beaches along Florida’s Atlantic coast closed Thursday as red tide was confirmed in Miami-Dade County.

Miami-Dade County closed beaches north of the Haulover inlet where algae levels high enough to trigger symptoms such as breathing problems in humans and kill fish were found, the Miami Herald reported.

“Whenever news goes out around the country that there’s a red tide in Miami-Dade County, yeah, it’s gonna have a some impact,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said. “There was a moderate level north of Haulover, so we took the decision, look, let’s close the beach down and take all the precautions and let’s actually talk to the folks on the west coast.”

Three beaches in Palm Beach County were also closed Thursday after reports of people suffering from eye, nose and throat irritation from suspected red tide, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Cases of red tide were confirmed in Palm Beach County on Monday and Martin and St. Lucie counties on Wednesday. Scientists believe the the gulf’s loop current has carried the toxic algae into the Florida current and up north along the Atlantic coast.

“It happens. The circulation is relatively constant and known. That’s not a stretch,” said Nick Shay, professor of ocean sciences at University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

“These meanders can occur daily or weekly or seasonally,” Shay added. “If the Florida current meanders toward the coast, that could amplify an already bad situation into a worst case scenario.”

Algae concentrations remained lower in the southern part of the state off the coast of Miami Beach and Key Biscayne, where beaches remain open.

Florida officials said a red tide bloom that began last fall now stretches along roughly 135 miles of the southwest portion of the state’s Gulf Coast.

Lt. Matthew Sparling of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Ocean Rescue noted that red tide is “very rare” on Florida’s east coast and the beach closures can be damaging to the state’s tourism industry.

“People come here to be on the beaches and they don’t want to be coming down here to be exposed to red tide or sewage spills or whatnot … so yeah, I think we can be in trouble,” Sparling said.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced the state would spend $3 million to combat red tide in St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

“In Florida, when presented with problems, we work together and face them head on — red tide is no different,” Scott said. “So far, the state has provided more than $16 million to help minimize the impacts of harmful algal blooms and expand our research and understanding of red tide, including funding to help scientists test innovative solutions for this phenomenon.”


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