ORLANDO, Fla. - The red tide continues to affect southwest Florida, in fact, high concentration levels have been dominating at least 100 miles of coastline since October 2017. The effects have gone beyond an awful look on the water and foul smell. A year later, there have been thousands of dead sea life, millions of dollars lost in tourism and many people have been affected by respiratory issues caused by the harmful algae bloom.
The Army Corps of Engineers have been releasing polluted waters to both coasts to avoid stress on the aging levee. Residents on the southeast coast complain about the possibility of a repeat of the 2016 disastrous algae bloom. These releases have occurred on and off, but the Lake Okeechobee pollution has greatly affected the southwestern coast more as it has fed more nutrients into the already occurring algae blooms multiplying the toxicity and area of the blooms.
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What is red tide, and why is it currently roiling Southwest Florida?
Florida beaches deal with red tide on Gulf, feces in Miami
Fact: There have been 57 Gulf Coast outbreaks since 1953.
This past summer, many along the east coast of Florida feared that there could be a possibility that high concentrations could also affect the east coast. After several months red tide concentrations were found along beaches in Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Martin, and as far north as St. Lucie County. At least six Palm Beach County beaches have been closed since the weekend because of the outbreak, dead fish have been found on some beaches.
Fact: Red tide is uncommon on Florida’s Atlantic Coast, only eight outbreaks since 1953. Palm Beach County had their last outbreak 10 years ago.
Officials in Miami-Dade County are specially worried about the impact that red tide may cause to fishing, residents, visitors and tourism. Beaches north of Haulover Inlet and in lower amounts off Miami Beach and Key Biscayne were closed on Thursday, but will reopen on Friday. The County will be placing signs on the beaches to warn residents and visitors about the potential health effects of red tide.
It's starting to look like a Pacman game...— Irene Sans (@IreneSans) October 5, 2018
Updated #RedTide map by @MyFWC
High concentrations of Karenia Brevis on both coasts of #Florida.
Low to moderate concentrations found in SE #Fl this week.
It could reach Brevard Co. Read more here> https://t.co/qWTEadPtrW pic.twitter.com/8itnBBiXwa
Miami-Dade is also watching out for next week's King Tides. These annual highest high tides would make things much messier as salt water (likely poisoned with the red tide at this point) will flood inland areas, such as Downtown Miami.
Broward County lab results were delayed until Friday afternoon. Results reported on the My Florida Wildlife Commission's website shows that there were very low to low concentrations found in three beaches in Broward County; Hallandale Beach, Dania Beach, and in Hollywood Beach just east of 595 and A1A.
Broward County, Deerfield Beach Mayor Bill Ganz said the International Fishing Pier will be closed Friday and Saturday out of abundance of caution. Officials also confirmed Friday that tests found low to medium levels of red tide near Lighthouse Point.
In a press release Thursday Jennifer Jurado, Broward County's Director and Chief Resilience Officer stated: "Red tide can last for a few weeks to longer than a year, but is not known to persist on the east coast. Sunlight, nutrients and salinity, all play a role, as well as the speed and direction of wind and water currents. Based on experience, we anticipate that the dynamic conditions of the east coast will serve as a control limiting the presence, persistence, and concentration of the organism in our nearshore waters."
Tha National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast that moderate concentrations could persist through at least Tuesday along the South East Florida's coast through St. Lucie County.
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Can it reach the Central East Coast of Florida?
Officials fear that the red tide can reach the Brevard County. But, the larger concern is that the algae will come in through the inlet or the locks and bloom extensively in the Indian lagoon. Some red tide species feed on brown tide species that have plagued the lagoon. If it enters the lagoon, there is no current to move it out, and it will just sit there, possibly for months, at least. Florida Fish and Wildlife have been testing the lagoon as part of their normal water testing.
How does it travel?
There are several events that must happen for the red tide to reach Florida’s East Coast. First, onshore winds need to bring the algae closer to shore and there must be nutrient rich runoff reaching the beaches. Another way is to have constant onshore winds with the loop current bringing the red tide from the southwest coast of Florida. Very rarely the toxic harmful bloom has reached north of Florida.
More: CLIMATE CHANGE NEWS
Fact: In 1987, in North Carolina a severe bloom lasted for months. A very small bloom was reported in Delaware in 2007.
On Thursday, the governor's office announced $3 million in grants to St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties to help mitigate the effects of red tide.
Brevard County officials are making plans to respond if necessary.
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