MIAMI – As fast-moving currents push the red tide from the Gulf of Mexico into the Florida Straits and then up along Florida’s Atlantic coast, beachgoers in areas of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties were reporting mild respiratory problems and dead fish this week.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned on Thursday the red tide's moderate impact to northern Miami-Dade and Palm Beach and the low impact to Broward was going to continue through Oct. 9.
Gov. Rick Scott announced $3 million in grants from Florida Department of Environmental Protection would be available to Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties to help mitigate the effects of red tide.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said testing showed there were moderate signs of this summer's algae outbreak from Haulover Beach to Golden Beach. The popular area, which includes a nudist section, was closed, and Gimenez said it would re-open on Friday morning.
"Please bear in mind that the Florida Department of Health advises people with severe or chronic respiratory conditions, such as asthma, to avoid red tide areas," said Patty Hurtado de Mendoza, the press secretary for Miami-Dade's mayor, in a statement. "Swimming is safe for most people."
Tourists in Miami-Dade were surprised about "the red tide tickle" warnings of respiratory and skin irritation in humans. Some people and animals are more vulnerable than others. A moderate impact means some some beachgoers could experience chronic respiratory conditions, and others could show mild symptoms. A low impact means some could be sensitive to chronic respiratory conditions.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Ocean Rescue Lt. Matthew Sparling said the signs of the algal bloom were unexpected. Some county and city employees were partially covering their faces as a precaution.
"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.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said on Thursday all signs indicated the red tide was impacting Fort Lauderdale beaches, but the beaches remained open, because they had yet to get testing results.
Six Palm Beach County beaches were closed since the weekend, but authorities said they planned to reopen on Friday.
The cyclical King Tides expected in South Florida in October and November could worsen the impact as seawater pushes into shore.
Before going to the beach this week, visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Research Institute's site for their Red Tide Conditions Report and check out their daily samples map.
If you go to the beach and stumble upon any dead sea animals washing up on the beach in South Florida, call the FWC Fish Kill Hotline at 1-800-636-0511 or submit a report online.