Low levels of red tide confirmed in waters off Broward County, test results show

DEERFIELD BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - State officials say test results have now confirmed red tide is present in the waters off of Broward County.

Test samples were taken from six locations in the county following confirmation of red tide in Palm Beach County earlier this week.

Preliminary results show the Karenia Brevis organism that causes most red tides in Florida has been found in coastal waters off of Broward, but the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says they are all at either “low” or “very low” levels.

All Broward County beaches remain open, with warning signs about the presence of red tide posted.

Tourists and beachgoers in town for the holiday weekend expressed concern over the toxins present.

“I think by Monday or Tuesday it should be nice,” beachgoer Norman Levin said. “But there goes the weekend.”

“I’m not sure I’m gonna go into the water,” tourist Crystal Walker said.

“We’ll stay away from the water for the time being,” beachgoer Pat Jones added.

County leaders have been trying to reassure residents and visitors that it’s still safe to enjoy the businesses along the coast.

“Fort Lauderdale is open for business, and there’s no reason to change your plans,” said Dan Lindblade with the Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce.

The organism releases an odorless toxin into the air that can cause respiratory irritation, including coughing, sneezing and an itchy throat.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says there have been 57 occurrences of red tide in the Gulf of Mexico since 1953. Eight of those events have made their way to the east coast. All eight of those events originated in the Gulf of Mexico and were carried by currents to the east coast.

Some visitors who escaped from the west to the east coast of Florida were disappointed to find themselves in a similar situation.

“We thought it would be OK here, so it’s very sad,” said tourist Carol Eggington.

The scene in Fort Lauderdale on Friday night was a busy one, with tourists and beachgoers appearing to be unfazed.

“I didn’t like the red tide, but now it’s good because everybody is coming to the beach,” said a beachgoer. “As you can see we’re all out here having fun, enjoying ourselves, and actually, I’m about to get in the water now for a little bit.”

“Red tides on the East coast of Florida are extremely rare. They can even subside and then reoccur,” FWC said in a news release. “The duration of a bloom in nearshore Florida waters depends on physical and biological conditions that influence its growth and persistence, including sunlight, nutrients and salinity, as well as the speed and direction of wind and water currents.”

With some dead fish already spotted in Palm Beach County, FWC has established a fish kill hotline. Residents are asked to call 800-636-0511 to report fish kills, diseased fish, or fish with other abnormalities. Leave a detailed report and contact information on the recorded message. A biologist will contact the caller, usually the following workday, if more information is needed.

For more information on Red Tide and conditions around the state, visit FWC’s website.

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