Anglers, businesses brace for red tide impacts on Space Coast

Karenia brevis

By Jerry Askin - Reporter

COCOA BEACH, Fla. - The effects of the red tide arriving on the Space Coast has impacted tourism across Central Florida. 

Brevard County Emergency Management officials are communicating with tourism leaders and taking steps to keep everyone safe.

"We’re working with the tourism development council to let the hotels know the information they need to give their visitors on how they should respond to the red tide," Brevard County Emergency Management communications director Don Walker said.

Tests results that came in Wednesday evening showed that red tide is present in high levels in Pelican Beach Park in Satellite Beach, and in medium levels in Indialantic, Coconut Point Park in Melbourne Beach and Spessard Holland South in Melbourne Beach.

Vanessa Williams and her family were visiting Cocoa Beach on Thursday from Minnesota. They said they heard about the red tide here in our area before coming down, but still planned to enjoy their planned vacation.

"No, we come from snow, so we were coming, pollution or not," Williams said.

Red tide hasn't reached Cocoa Beach, but Williams and her family say they're being careful regardless. 

Wave action and rough surf cause the microscopic algae Karenia brevis, known as ride tide, to break and release the toxins into the air. In some cases, the toxins can be found up to a mile inland.

"We’re going to try to stay away from it of course, but I think we’ll be safe here," said Shaughn Patton.

Red tide can cause sneezing, coughing, itchy and watery eyes, running noses and other similar symptoms commonly referred to as "the red tide tickle," named for the throat irritation is causes.

Many fishermen say they're seeing the impact too. Wilf Pierce is from England and spends three months a year on Cocoa Beach vacationing and fishing.

"They’ll just close everything down. It’s not worth catching them if you can’t eat them anyway," said Pierce. 

News 6 spoke with the bar manager at Coconuts on the Beach Angela Johnson on Thursday. She said her restaurant in Cocoa Beach is feeling the impact too, but adds previous years have been way worse.

"So far I’d say we’ve seen slightly, maybe a 5 percent decline in business, but nothing more than that," said Johnson.

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