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Tests continue to show high levels of red tide on parts of the Treasure Coast

Posted at 5:25 PM, Oct 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-23 18:43:26-04

It has been a week now since beaches were first closed in Indian River County.  

Malcolm McFarland at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute puts a droplet of water pulled from the ocean off the Indian River County coastline on a slide.  That slide goes under the microscope.  A quick search finds the algae Karenia brevis,  also known as red tide.

McFarland says water samples they’ve taken this week showed high concentrations in the Vero Beach area, as well as northern St. Lucie County.

“If you ingest large doses of it, it can cause numbness in muscles.”

Red tide events are rare on the Atlantic shores, and when they do occur, they usually don’t last long.

“Because we have the Gulfstream that quickly moves a lot of the coastal water we have north and east away from the coast," added McFarland.

However, a change in the currents and the winds brought red tide back to the area over the weekend.

At Wabasso Beach, Sam Summerlin and his marine construction crew were calling it a day just after lunch.

“A couple miles down it’s so bad you can hardly breathe.  We’re stopping work because of it," said Summerlin.

With only a lunchtime rush at BeachBites next to Wabasso Beach County Park, regular beachgoers aren’t stopping in for a towel, or suntan lotion. It's taking a bite out of business.

“Quite a bit of business has been down.  Probably about 50%," said Dan Wright of BeachBites.

There has been more progress made on beach cleanup.  At Tracking Station Park, tracks were left behind by Bobcats digging up and disposing of dead fish, that are now found in lesser numbers.