BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — The Florida Department of Health said Wednesday evening that test results from water samples confirm that red tide has made its way to Brevard County.
Brevard County's Natural Resources Management Department on Tuesday collected six water samples in Melbourne Beach, Indialantic, Satellite Beach and Cocoa Beach to test for red tide.
Officials said background levels of Karenia brevis cells were found near Fifth Avenue in Cocoa Beach; medium levels were found near Seventh and Wave Crest avenues in Indialantic; high levels were found at Satellite Beach's Pelican Beach Park; and medium levels were found at Coconut Point Park and Juan Ponce de León Landing in Melbourne Beach.
Results from samples collected elsewhere in Melbourne Beach are expected to be received Thursday, officials said.
Water samples were collected on behalf of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The county said it has monitored the spread of the algae responsible for red tide as it moved from the state's Gulf Coast to its east coast.
Residents said they have spotted dead fish and have experienced itchy throats and coughs, which is often associated with red tide. Officials haven't said if the fish kills are related to the algae bloom.
"The county's out sampling. The state's out sampling. As many people who can volunteer, photograph and (share) stories of what they're seeing on the beach -- citizen science -- is very important to get the story told to everyone, so we really know what's going on, so we can map this red tide and understand it," said Mitchell Roffer, a Melbourne Beach oceanographer.
Officials said red tide seldom reaches Brevard County, and when it does, it typically doesn't last long.
The Florida Department of Health said sea spray from breaking waves can release toxins into the air, causing eye, nose and throat irritation.
"When I come down close to the water, there's just something in the air that tickles my throat and makes me cough," said Erika Gundrey, who was wearing a mask at the beach Wednesday evening.
The algae can also be harmful to marine life.
Cox Media Group