Dead fish washed ashore from the red tide.

Photo Credit Shania Campbell

Red Tide Reaches Brevard County

October 26, 2018

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Recently, an outbreak of red tide has affected many Florida beaches, including those in Brevard County.

 

Red tide is a type of algal bloom that pollutes ocean water, thus killing sea creatures like fish, sea turtles, dolphins, whale sharks, etc. This is a safety hazard to Florida beaches and wildlife, as it leaves the beaches riddled with dead fish. In many cases, the ocean water turns to a red or brown hue, but it occasionally is not noticeable in the water. During the early stages of red tide, many people don’t notice or realize what it is and brush it off, even though it is a significant health concern for people.

 

This algal bloom causes breathing and respiratory problems in people, which is why many Florida beaches are closed while red tide is present. Freshman Violet Sibol believes that “only the [beaches] where it has been found and the surrounding ones [should be closed], because it is important to keep people healthy.” It’s dangerous for people to be in the same water or walk on the same beach as red tide. In response to this hazard, Florida counties including Palm Beach County and Indian River County both closed their beaches after the epidemic was reported to be on their coastlines.

 

This epidemic originally began on the southwest coast of Florida, but, after Hurricane Michael hit the Gulf, the red tide spread along the state and affected an abundance of Florida’s beaches. On October 18th, tests reported that it had officially reached Brevard County. Many beachgoers, however, didn’t realize this until after they had been outside.

 

The Monday after the red tide was discovered, Satellite Beach residents—including SHS students—noticed the difference in the air. Sophomore Joe Brightman stated, “I first felt the effects this Monday, walking home from school. […] my eyes and throat hurt very bad.” After students were dismissed from school Monday and Tuesday, coughing was heard all over the courtyard as a result of the red tide toxins blown from the beach.

 

Satellite High School is less than a mile from the beach, exposing more students and faculty than other campuses. A notice from Brevard Public Schools was posted onto the high school’s web page explaining that they are going to work with the principals of impacted schools and take necessary precautions. Along with SHS, Satellite Beach has many other schools that are just as vulnerable to exposure, including DeLaura Middle School, Holland Elementary School, and Surfside Elementary School. According to the newsletter, “Brevard Public School’s Environmental Health and Safety Office will […] limit outside activities and temporarily close outside air ventilation if the problem becomes noticeable indoors.” Despite their efforts, it may be more difficult to implement effective changes, since most of the campuses are outdoors: Students walk outside to get to many of their classes, along with faculty patrolling the school outdoors, which yields even more exposure. Elementary schools have a slight advantage compared to DeLaura Middle School and Satellite High School, because students are inside most of the day, aside from recess and lunch. For the most part, though, people only notice the different air in the afternoon—especially when students are released from school.

 

Currently, the only thing Floridians can do to stay healthy while red tide is present is to avoid the beach and be careful when outdoors if they live near it. While scientists search for other methods, a hurricane may be the only way to dispose of the red tide. Luckily, it’s still hurricane season and there may be a chance to restore Florida’s coastlines in the upcoming months.

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