INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. - The test results are in: The toxic red tide bloom that's been plaguing Florida's waters for months is now present in Brevard and Indian River counties and appears to be continuing on its trek north.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced on Monday that the agency would conduct water samplings in the Brevard County area after beachgoers reported seeing dead marine life on the shores and said they were experiencing respiratory issues, both common symptoms of red tide.
The results of those tests came in Wednesday evening, confirming what many residents suspected.
Brevard County government officials said preliminary results show 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.
Testing for the Karenia brevis microorganism is still underway at Juan Ponce de Leon Landing in Melbourne Beach.
In Indian River County, officials closed beach access points in Indian River County and the city of Vero Beach, except for Round Island Beach Park. It's unknown when those areas will reopen.
Brevard County Ocean Rescue Chief Eisen Witcher told Cocoa Beach government officials that the red tide bloom appeared to be in the Eau Gallie area on Tuesday and was continuing to move north based on tidal flows, wind direction and currents.
Florida's red tide bloom began late last year and continued to spread through the summer months, making it one of the most persistent red tide outbreaks the Gulf of Mexico has experienced in more than a decade, according to CNN.
While the toxic algae is seen most years in the Gulf, this marks the first time since 2007 that it has crept into Brevard County, Florida Today reported.
Tons of dead fish have washed ashore on Sunshine State beaches, killed by the consumption of the brevotoxins produced when the K. brevis algae dies. Those toxins are also released into the air, which can cause coughing, sneezing and other respiratory issues for humans and animals alike, even if they never enter the red tide-contaminated water.
Beachgoers are urged to use caution, particularly if they suffer from asthma or any other respiratory illnesses.
For more information about red tide, click here.
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