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Red tide irritates Treasure Coast
The Palm Beach Post ^ | 11/26/02 | Libby Wells, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Posted on 11/27/2002 4:52:06 AM PST by Sungirl


Red tide, a pesky phenomenon that is rare for Floridas eastern shore, has rolled into the Treasure Coast like a rude Thanksgiving guest, giving beachgoers in four counties tickly throats, itchy noses and eyes and killing fish in some coastal waters.

We were sitting around the pool yesterday and everybody was coughing, said Becky Cowin, an Indiana resident visiting relatives on Hutchinson Island. We kept asking is this anthrax or what? Nobody had ever heard of red tide.

Red tide is caused by microscopic plant-like organisms that bloom and release a toxin into the water. Depending on how concentrated the bloom is, it can turn the water red.

The tide was first reported on the Treasure Coast Nov. 4 off Brevard County.

Currents have been pushing it south, and beaches from Cape Canaveral to the St. Lucie Inlet have been affected.

"The longshore currents are moving north to south, and the winds are moving from water to land, which encourages the spread," said Beverly Roberts, research administrator at the Florida Marine Research Institute in St. Petersburg, which is tracking the tide.

Roberts said the institute had one unconfirmed report of red tide in Palm Beach County but is not acting on it.

On Monday, health departments in Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties issued advisories. Beaches remained open, but with warnings posted.

You don't have to go swimming to be affected by red tide; sea spray is enough to cause discomfort.

Anglers throughout the Treasure Coast said fishing was good Tuesday, but dead fish were spotted in areas.

"We have maybe 1,000 or so scattered from Sebastian Inlet to south of Vero Beach," said Charles Vogt, a biologist with the health department in Indian River County. "But it's hard to get a good count because the tide brings them in and out."

The Florida Marine Research Institute, which collected water samples from Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties, is expected to know today how high the toxin levels are.

Health officials recommend avoiding shellfish, such as clams and oysters, because they can become contaminated with the toxin.

The tide has been documented along Florida's Gulf Coast for centuries but is rare for the state's east coast.

It last washed into Martin County in November 1997, according to the health department.

Bob Washam, Martin County's environmental health director, said it's hard to predict how long the red tide will last.

"The last time, it lasted about a week. It wasn't too bad. I think the weather will have the most influence on this."

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; US: Florida; Unclassified; Your Opinion/Questions
KEYWORDS: letsgoswimming; microscopic; organisms; redtide
Hey, come on down to Florida and go swimming!
1 posted on 11/27/2002 4:52:06 AM PST by Sungirl
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To: Sungirl
Worried over accusations the city's drinking water might not be safe, officials agreed Tuesday to seek an outside audit of pipe installation practices.

And come drink some of our Fresh water!!

Drinking water contaminated?

2 posted on 11/27/2002 5:01:41 AM PST by Sungirl
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To: Sungirl
Out on the left coast, they sometimes have a similar thing. On lazy summer afternoons, I remember some times in Ventura, California when the water would turn a dirty brown, not really red. During the days, it would be really ugly, but at night, it was absolutely beautiful.

These microscopic plankton have a quality known as "bio-luminescence"...At nights, especially when the moon was new, a stroll along the beach at night would be like walking in a living light show. Every time a wave would break, a incredible splash of bright yellow-green color would explode in each wave. Kicking the sand would send a shower of greenish sparks as the sand splashed from your foot. As a kid, this was one of my favorite childhood memories.

A bit later in life as an offshore sailboater, it was also very romantic to night sail like a ghost through these "red tides". Your boats' wake would explode in brilliant yellows and greens as your boat slid silently through the water. Sometimes I miss those days....Quite a treat!

3 posted on 11/27/2002 8:16:27 AM PST by China Clipper
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