VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – The red tide outbreak moving along Florida's coast has made its way to Volusia County, although at this point only in low levels.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission personnel collected water samples from Mary McLeod Bethune Beach Park in Daytona Beach last week. Those test results, which came back on Tuesday, confirmed that the Karenia brevis microorganism that's responsible for red tide was present at a level of 667 cells per liter, which FWC classifies as a background level.
Volusia County officials said that, given the extremely low concentration, beachgoers should not experience any health affects. If the concentration becomes greater than 1,000 to 10,000 cells per liter, which FWC classifies as "very low," then there could be the possibility of respiratory irritation.
No beach closures are planned in the area, but signs will be posted warning residents of the potential presence of red tide and the risks associated with exposure.
On Tuesday, Volusia County’s Environmental Management and Beach Safety divisions collected water samples from beach access ramps at Hiles Boulevard, Crawford Road and Granada Boulevard. Those samples will be sent to the FWC for testing and the agency will return the results in about two days.
Currently, officials plan to conduct red tide testing in Volusia County on a weekly basis.
On Sunday morning, lifeguards found a dead, 2-to 3-foot-long dolphin stranded on the shore. The animal was taken to Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute to determine if red tide or something else is to blame for its death.
There have also been complaints about dead fish in the area in recent weeks, officials said.
Although Florida's red tide outbreak is usually contained to the Gulf Coast, the algae has popped up in Brevard, Indian River and other counties along the Atlantic Ocean in recent weeks.
Beachgoers are advised to use caution in any area where red tide is present because the airborne toxins can cause sneezing, coughing and other respiratory symptoms, commonly known as "the red tide tickle."
Click here to see the webpage FWC has dedicated to monitoring the status of red tide and illustrating which portions of the Sunshine State have been hit the hardest. You can also go to ClickOrlando.com/Water to read more about the problems plaguing Florida's waterways and how you can help.