NEW: Red tide sample tests in the high range at Carlin Park in Jupiter

A sample of water taken at Carlin Park in Jupiter on Wednesday has tested in the high range for Karenia brevis, which is the algae that causes red tide.

It is the only sample that has so far tested in the high range in Palm Beach County that has been released by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. A sample taken by the Loxahatchee River District about 1.2 miles west of the Jupiter Inlet also tested in the high range.

The results mean more than 1 million Karenia brevis cells per liter were found – a level that can cause even normally healthy people to have intense symptoms, including coughing, watery eyes and wheezing.

You can find real time sampling results on FWC’s red tide website. 

A forecast released this morning from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows moderate levels of red tide irritation in Palm Beach County at least through Tuesday.

The forecast, which before only listed Palm Beach County in the moderate level, now includes Miami-Dade, Broward, Martin and St. Lucie counties in the moderate category.

RELATED: Red tide confusion as county and cities go back-and-forth on beach closings

Moderate means normally healthy people with no respiratory problems will feel mild effects from the red tide, including sneezing, coughing and watery eyes.

All of Palm Beach County-managed beaches are open today, as is Lake Worth, Oceanfront Park in Boynton Beach, Delray Beach and Boca Raton. Palm Beach’s Midtown beach remains closed.

 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s “harmful algal bloom” forecast uses satellite images, wind direction, and test results of Karenia brevis concentrations to determine the level of wheezing, coughing and eye watering that beachgoers may experience.

While NOAA’s algae forecasts are common on the west coast where red tide is a nearly annual occurrence and has been present since October 2017, the last full red tide forecast for Palm Beach County was in January 2008.

The red tide reached southeast Florida by traveling on the Florida Current from the southwest coast of the state and into the Gulf Stream –  a conveyor belt of warm water that parallels Florida and redistributes heat from the equatorial areas. The Gulf Stream begins to move deeper into the western Atlantic near Cape Hatteras.

Lake Worth Ocean Rescue Lifeguard Mike Morrill prepares to wipe the beach closed notification off the information board at Lake Worth Beach. Although moderate levels of red tide were found off Lake Worth’s coast, the beach was reopened today.

“I won’t be surprised if we start seeing red tide off of South Carolina,” said Robert Weisberg, a University of South Florida professor of physical oceanography. “Once it gets into the Florida Current, it’s only a matter of a week or two before it’s up off the Carolinas.”

RELATED: Red tide facts, your questions answered

Easterly winds, such as what Florida has felt since late last week from a high pressure system over the state, can push the single-cell Karenia brevis toward shore. Once there, they can live and reproduce separate from the Gulf Stream.

“If it was just a blob in the Gulf Stream that was going to go by, it would have already,” Weisberg said. “Once it’s in inshore waters, it will stay and reside there until it dies.”

But it’s usually  not a lasting visitor because the continental shelf ends close to shore, leaving an expanse of deep water when red tide prefers the shallower waters off the west coast.

About 500 yards from the ocean on Palm Beach is when B.J. Bergeron said he and his family started coughing.

Bergeron, his wife Melony, and sons Blake, 10, and Brant 15, are visiting from Texas and had heard about the red tide but had never experienced it. On Friday, they wanted to walk on the beach.

“We’re not sure that we should now,” said Melony. “This is like nothing I’ve ever felt before.”

Newly printed signs warning visitors of the red tide outbreak along A1A, south of Indiantown Road in Jupiter on October 4, 2018. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

BREAKING: State team deployed to investigate MacArthur Beach fish kill

Dead fish wash up on the beach south of Donald Ross Road during an outbreak of red tide in Juno Beach on October 3, 2018. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

UPDATE 5 p.m.: A state team of biologists will investigate a fish kill reported today at MacArthur Beach State Park.

According to a press release:

Parks staff is working to perform clean-up as quickly as possible, while coordinating with FWC to investigate any potential causes. To date, at Governor Scott’s direction, DEP has distributed grant funding of more than $10 million to support efforts in impacted counties to mitigate and combat red tide.

UPDATE 4:45 p.m.: Most Palm Beach County beaches will remain closed Thursday, with the exception of Phil Foster Park, Peanut Island and Ocean Ridge Hammock.

Officials said this afternoon that people are still complaining of scratchy throats and wheezing – symptoms of a red tide that was found in low to moderate quantities in waters from Palm Beach Inlet to Jupiter Inlet.

Also, “limited fish kills on some beaches” have been reported.

To report a fish kill, call the FWC’s hotline at 800-636-0511.

UPDATE: The Florida Department of Environmental Protection said dead fish are being cleaned up off of MacArthur Beach Beach State Park and will be tested for red tide.

The park is closed. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will test for the Karenia brevis toxin to see if that was the cause of death.

Previous story: Palm Beach County is posting specially-made signs warning of red tide at its beaches today, which remain closed as lifeguards continue to report coughing, scratchy throats and watery eyes.

Aquatics director Laurie Schobelock said the new vinyl signs being made by the county’s sign shop will be posted at beach information boards and at beach entrances if there are extra.

She said the county is getting a few calls reporting dead fish, but that she was at Juno Beach this morning and didn’t see dead fish. She did feel the red tide-induced scratch in her throat and said it was a little sore until she returned to her office.

PHOTOS: Red tide hits Palm Beach County 

RELATED: What the red tide samples showed, and other algae questions answered

“This is all a moving target,” Schobelock said about managing the red tide situation. “The decision about closing the beaches tomorrow will be made later in the day.”

The county had expected to open beaches today, but reversed course after NOAA released a forecast that predicted “moderate” levels of red tide along Palm Beach County through at least Friday.

New red tide test results are expected today from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, but it’s unknown if they will include information beyond what was released Monday that showed low to moderate levels of Karenia brevis at 11 sites tested.

“The biggest thing is if anyone is having any sort of respiratory issue they should stay away from the beaches,” Schobelock said. “Exercise caution and be aware this is going on.”

Delray Beach resident Harvey Latidus said he walked his dog this morning near Atlantic Avenue and felt what he likened to “tear gas.”

He was concerned there were no signs explaining what was happening.

“It got me good this morning,” he said. “They have the red flags out so they don’t want you in the water, but there are no signs, there’s nothing. The city could send a flier or give notice to people in regards to this.”

Red tide, which grows in saltwater, is naturally occurring in the Gulf of Mexico. This summer, onshore winds pushed the toxin close to beaches that were fouled by massive fish kills, as well as dead manatees, turtles and dolphins.

How the red tide got to Palm Beach County is still a matter of debate, although the general theory is it got caught in the Florida Current, which runs through the Florida Straits into the Gulf Stream.

Richard Stumpf, a NOAA oceanographer who tracks algae blooms by satellite, said a red tide bloom passed west of the Marquesas Keys, which are west of Key West, in mid-September. Following that, a mild algae bloom formed offshore of the upper Keys and stretched west to the Gulf Stream.

“That moved through the Palm Beach area over the weekend when you had strong easterly winds,” Stumpf said. “The winds would help accumulate cells at the shore concentrating them from a mild to a dense bloom.”

RELATED: Fighting, fingerpointing no way to fix toxic algae issue

Malcolm McFarland, a research associate at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce, said the natural currents didn’t look like they were in the right place to pick up the red tide in the Gulf of Mexico.

“It could be a local bloom entirely separate from what’s happening on the west coast,” McFarland said. “And that would be even more interesting.”

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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.

Previous story:

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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Social media posts on red tide and blue-green algae have law enforcement on alert

A sign posted by Martin County Health Department warns to avoid contact with blue-green algae near the Port Mayaca locks on June 12, 2018. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

A stream of online vitriol about Florida’s toxic algae disaster has piqued the interest of law enforcement, which is monitoring posts following comments about blowing up the Herbert Hoover Dike, vandalizing cars and “hanging state politicians.”

Whether the internet provocations are just disgruntled grousing or credible threats will be considered by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, which is accepting reports from law enforcement agencies as well as its own review, said spokesman Eric Davis.

“You just can’t say you are going to blow up the dike or that you will be on the stairs of U.S. Sugar with ARs (assault rifles),” said Capt. Susan Harrelle of the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office, which covers the Lake Okeechobee town of Clewiston. “I understand the passion, but it’s really not the right way to go about it.”

RELATED: Special Report: A foul task – cleaning up Florida’s red tide corpses

The anger is rooted in the massive red tide fish kills on Florida’s southwest coast and the blue-green algae in the northern estuaries.

A South Florida Water Management District employee told the Lee County Sheriff’s Office she was in her work vehicle this month in Bonita Springs when a man pulled his car behind her in a Walgreens parking lot, trapping her in a parking space. She said he …. READ THE REST OF THE STORY AT MYPALMBEACHPOST.COM and find out why misleading information might be fanning the flames. 

Collier beach alert for red tide-related breathing problems

The National Weather Service has issued a beach hazards statement for Collier County alerting to the potential for breathing problems related to red tide.

The statement is in effect through Sunday evening.

Red tide is a harmful algal bloom that can produce toxins that kill fish, make shellfish dangerous to eat, and make the surrounding air difficult to breath.

“As the name suggests, the bloom of algae often turns the water red,” According to NOAA’s Ocean Service.

Red tide occurs nearly every summer along Florida’s Gulf Coast, but is rare in the Atlantic.

Symptoms from red tide can include coughing, sneezing and tearing eyes. People with respiratory conditions can be more sensitive to red tide irritations.