Some east Florida beaches remain shut down as red tide lingers

Red Tide May Have Hit Broward County Today

Red Tide May Have Hit Broward County Today

Dozens of beaches across Florida were closed on Thursday as red tide continues to spread along the state's Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

"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", Sparling said. This week, the bloom surfaced along the shores of Palm Beach County. Eating improperly harvested shellfish affected by a red tide can make people sick.

"The ocean is big business out here", said 36-year-old Richy Beck, as he unloaded a truck full of beach chairs Thursday at Haulover Beach.

Haulover Beach is not the only beach affected by red tide, the rare but killer algae bloom.

"As soon as I go near the water, I start sneezing and my nose burns", said beachgoer Leah Sosa. Bay County had the highest concentration of algae, while Walton, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties had lower concentrations. There have been 57 Gulf Coast outbreaks since 1953. "That's not a stretch", said Nick Shay, professor of ocean sciences at University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

Concern about the health of seafood is spreading, just as the red tide inches closer to what used to be the oyster capital of Florida, Apalachicola Bay.

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"While we wait on the official test results, we can tell you that based on our observations, we are seeing conditions that lead us and the Fish and Wildlife Commission to believe that the red tide algae is present off the waters of Fort Lauderdale Beach", said Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis. The circulation is relatively constant and known. "If the Florida Current meanders toward the coast, that could amplify an already bad situation into a worst case scenario".

The state said Wednesday that new test results showed red tide's presence off Martin and St. Lucie counties.

The county closed its beaches at Boca South Inlet Park in Boca Raton and at Ocean Inlet and Gulfstream parks in Boynton Beach because of rising complaints by lifeguards there of allergy-like symptoms related to red tide, such as coughing, irritated throats and wheezing.

The cyclical King Tides expected in South Florida in October and November could worsen the impact as seawater pushes into shore.

Haulover Beach in Miami - a stretch of sand known for being popular with nude sunbathers - was almost empty Thursday afternoon.

Boynton Beach will await further information from state wildlife officials and Palm Beach County to determine when Oceanfront Park, it's only public beach, will reopen. "I come nearly every day", said beachgoer Dorian Zeidenweber. "We call this area ground zero", he added.

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