JUST IN: Some county beaches to remain closed because of red tide

UPDATE 5:40 p.m.: Palm Beach County beaches from R.G. Kreusler Park north to the Martin County line will remain closed after lifeguards and staff report continued irritation from red tide.

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has released a map detailing the locations where testing occurred over the weekend for red tide.

The map also includes the concentrations of Karenia brevis in the samples.

A second map and forecast from NOAA shows moderate red tide conditions are expected in Palm Beach County through Friday.

Water samples were taken after beachgoers complained of scratchy throats, coughing and skin irritations this past weekend. The 11 samples, taken up to 7 miles offshore, tested positive for very low-to-medium concentrations of red tide and the single-cell algae Karenia brevis that causes it.

RELATED: Red tide Q&A and how it differs from blue-green algae

There have been 57 occurrences of red tide in the Gulf of Mexico since 1953. Eight of those events have made their way to Palm Beach County (with cell counts 100,000 cells/liter or more). All eight of those events originated in the Gulf of Mexico and were carried by currents to the east coast.

Gov. Rick Scott commented for the first time about the red tide on the Atlantic coast this morning, saying the state is ready to “deploy any needed resources.”

“With red tide now observed on Florida’s Atlantic Coast, we aren’t wasting any time combatting this natural phenomenon,” Scott said in a statement. “Over the past 61 years, scientists at FWC have documented red tide in Florida’s Atlantic waters nine times, and now, just as we’ve done on the Gulf Coast, we are absolutely committed to quickly deploying every available resource our Atlantic Coast communities may need to combat and mitigate red tide.”

Palm Beach County’s public beaches will open Wednesday, while individual cities can make their own decisions on whether to fully open, or keep swimming restricted.

PHOTOS: Beaches close across Palm Beach County after people complain of respiratory distress

“Reopening county beaches on Wednesday, Oct. 3rd, provides for a day’s preparation of proper messaging on the beaches,” a Monday press release from the county states. “All Palm Beach County beachgoers are advised to swim near guarded beaches and heed any warnings posted at county or city beaches.”

Boynton Beach and Boca Raton did not restrict access or swimming, while Delray Beach was closed to swimming Monday.

RELATED: Cleaning up Florida’s red tide corpses 

Ben Kerr, the public information officer for Lake Worth, said water samples were taken at Lake Worth Beach on Saturday and Monday, with results pending.

Similar to Palm Beach County, Lake Worth will reopen its beach Wednesday. The Casino and Benny’s on the Beach will remain open, although the top parking lot is closed today.

Red tide samples taken Sept. 30. Courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

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WATCH: Best views of mighty Jupiter this week

Mighty Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, reaches opposition to the sun this week, giving the Earth its best view of the bright gas giant.

Opposition is a time when the Earth lies between a planet and the sun. It offers the best views because the planets are away from the glare of the sun and closer to Earth than usual.

While Jupiter reaches opposition May 8, it is closest to the Earth on May 10. Jupiter is now rising in the east as the sun is setting.

CHECK The Palm Beach Post live radar map.

Portrait of Jupiter compiled from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Courtesy NASA

Florida Atlantic University will celebrate Jupiter’s opposition by opening its astronomical observatory for a free public viewing Friday.

“There is something visceral, personal and authentically real that one experiences when you look through a telescope at a celestial object,” said FAU astronomer Eric Vandernoot. “When you witness it then, it is just you and the object, with nothing in between to perhaps alter your view of it.”

STORMS: The Palm Beach Post’s hurricane page has everything you need to know about the upcoming season.

The event is from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. at the observatory, which is on the top floor of the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science on the Boca Raton campus. Find information about parking here.

FAU observatory

In addition to the observatory access, there will be a presentation about Jupiter and its moons, the formation of the solar system and a discussion about NASA’s Juno spacecraft.

Related: Is the Town of Jupiter really is named after the planet? 

“It is one of the few events that I know of around here, where people come sit down for the presentation, run up to the scope for a peep, come down and continue the presentation and stay for hours discussing science,” Vandernoot said.

The best viewing is when Jupiter appears high up at the horizon, which occurs at 1 a.m., but a view through the telescope is available all night.

Courtesy EarthSky.org

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Vandernoot said a volunteer will operate the telescope, while he gives the lectures below the the telescope platform.

For more information about the event, check the FAU observatory website.

Jupiter’s opposition will be the first of three this summer with Saturn’s at the end of June and the opposition of Mars on July 27.

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“Happily, I’m an experienced boater,” man says after nearly hitting Jupiter surfers

A man who said he is an “experienced boater,” was tracked down by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission last month after witnesses said he nearly hit surfers in the waters off Jupiter’s Carlin Park.

Pierre Esperance, 63, is facing a misdemeanor charge of reckless or careless operation of a vessel, after the Jan. 4 incident that FWC officers found out about through social media posts.

Photo provided by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission of Jan. 4 incident near Carlin Park.

Esperance, who FWC said has a Quebec drivers license, is a member of the Palm Beach Boat Club in Riviera Beach. He was reprimanded by the owner of the club prior to FWC involvement.

In a Jan. 5 email, the club owner “condemned” Esperance’s actions and said he was only authorized to be on the Intracoastal waterway, not open ocean, according to FWC.

The National Weather Service in  Miami had a small craft advisory in place for coastal waters in Palm Beach County from Jan. 1 through Jan. 5. Seas were in the 7 to 9-foot range with winds blowing up to 29 mph.

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“Happily, I’m an experienced boater and I had no choice to go threw (sic) these surfers because it was the only way out,” Esperance allegedly responded in an email to the club owner after he was reminded he was only to be on the Intracoastal, according to the FWC report.

Photo provided by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission of Jan. 4 incident near Carlin Park.

Esperance was allegedly driving a 22-foot boat he had signed out from the club. The FWC report says he was within 60 to 180 feet of the shore when he came close to the surfers.

Pictures show the boat between the breaking waves and beach.

“It was crazy,” said Jim Tolliver, a Jupiter resident who was surfing that day following a cold front that cleaned up the head-high waves with an offshore wind. “I don’t know what they were doing. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Tolliver, who has been surfing for 40 years, said there were about 50 people in the water and the boat was coming dangerously close to some of them.

“They came really close to me, but they got a lot closer to some of the kids out there,” Tolliver said.

FWC Officer Benjamin Hankinson, who was able to initially identify Esperance from pictures and comments posted on Facebook, said the boat was being operated at “planing speeds” – fast enough for the hull to lift out of the water.

“Upon review of the investigation, the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office is direct-filing a reckless operation misdemeanor charge on the operator,” the FWC report says.

The penalty for committing a first-degree misdemeanor is one year in prison and/or a $1,000 fine.

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Update: Tiger shark may have suffocated, necropsy results pending

Florida Atlantic University is sending samples from the large tiger shark found dead north of the Juno Beach Fishing Pier for histology, but results won’t be back for weeks.

Stephen Kajiura, whose students performed the necropsy on the estimated 300-pound shark, said the histology will look for abnormalities in the tissues.

He said his students found no signs of external injury “other than the large hook extracted from the jaws.”

Related: Shark was being tracked by University of Miami researcher

Hook taken from the jaws of a tiger shark that was found dead north of the Juno Beach Fishing pier. Courtesy, Florida Atlantic University

Kajiura said there were also no signs of internal tissue damage or tumors.

“With no obvious signs of trauma, it definitely looks like a stress-related death – people fighting the shark on the line until it is exhausted,” Kajiura said. “The muscle physiology of these sharks allows them to exhibit bursts of activity for short periods of time, like a sprinter, but a sprinter is not able to run a marathon, which is effectively what happens when the shark is fought on a line for an extended period.”

One thing the histology won’t show is acidosis, Kajiura said.

Related: Expert suspects shark died after fight with fishermen

Lactic acidosis is a physiological condition that occurs when the body uses the sugar stores in the muscles to provide an energey source to replace oxygen, according to a National Geographic article on studying shark stress. 

This can happen in sharks when they are excited or strained. It is a life-threatening condition for sharks.

“Their muscles basically fatigue to the point that when they are released, they are simply too tired to swim, and they just sink to the bottom and suffocate,” Kajiura said.

Video: South Florida man bit by shark, catches shark, says he’ll eat it

JUST IN: Picture shows large hook in mouth of dead Jupiter tiger shark

The estimated 300-pound dead tiger shark found north of Juno Beach Fishing Pier this week had a large fishing hook lodged in its mouth.

A man who does turtle monitoring in area posted multiple photos on his Instagram account of the shark, which also had a tracking tag from the University of Miami.

University of Miami shark researcher Neil Hammerschlag tagged the large female tiger shark in 2013 at Tiger Beach Bahamas.

“It was pregnant when we tagged her,” Hammerschlag said. “She was 357 cm at that time.”

Estimates given this week were between six and seven feet.

Hammerschlag said he does not know how the tiger shark died but said it’s possible it happened after a fight with fishermen.

“There is a lot of shore-based shark fishing going on in that area,” Hammerschlag said. “It is possible the shark died as a result of the physiological stress associated with that.”

A necropsy is being done on the shark by Florida Atlantic University. Stephen Kajiura, whose students took samples from the shark, could not immediately be reached.

Sharks circle during a dive with the Shark Lab crew from the Bimini Biological Field Station in the Bahamas. PALM BEACH POST FILE

 

Jupiter’s ArtiGras in for pleasant weekend, with slight chance of showers

ArtiGras, the annual shopping and entertainment festival in Abacoa, opens Saturday at 10 a.m. and should have warm clear skies for most of the day.

The high temperature Saturday in Jupiter is expected to reach 78 degrees with a 20 percent chance of showers and a slight possibility of thunderstorms.

Rain chances increase beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday, but National Weather Service forecasters are expecting a mostly sunny day before late afternoon.

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

The arts belong to Abacoa this weekend for the 32nd Annual Artigras festival. Go for a day and enjoy one of the largest fine arts festivals in the U.S. Contributed by David Randell
The arts belong to Abacoa this weekend for the 32nd Annual Artigras festival. Go for a day and enjoy one of the largest fine arts festivals in the U.S. Contributed by David Randell

Sunday may be a different story.

A low pressure system moving east across the U.S. is expected to send some turbulent weather into South Florida and forecasters are giving Sunday a 30 percent chance of showers before clearing Sunday night.

Monday will return to mostly sunny skies with a high of 78 degrees.

Download the Palm Beach Post WeatherPlus app here.

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