The City of Hollywood is working with Broward County, state agencies such as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and local coastal municipalities in response to Florida Red Tide. FWC has verified the presence of the red tide forming algae, Karenia Brevis (K.Brevis), in coastal waters of Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties at low to moderate concentrations. While analyses are still pending in Broward County, several recent reports of respiratory discomfort by beach visitors in Broward County, including Hollywood, suggest that the K. Brevis organism is also present in coastal waters of Broward County, likely at similar concentrations.
Broward County, is coordinating with the FWC to perform county-wide water quality monitoring to confirm the presence and concentration of K. Brevis in coastal waters. Results of this sampling, which will include samples from Hollywood Beach will be made public as soon as results are available. If confirmed, this coordination and monitoring will continue until no presence of the algae is detected.
There are currently no beach closures within Broward County; however, the City of Hollywood and other local municipalities are proactively posting cautionary signage at the beach informing the public about the potential presence of red tide.
Q. What is red tide?
A. A red tide is a higher-than-normal concentration of a microscopic alga, plant-like-organisms. In Florida, the species that causes most red tides is Karenia brevis, a naturally occurring toxic algae bloom. At high concentrations, known as a bloom, red tide can turn the water a red, green or brown hue, or the water can remain its normal color.
Q. Are there any public health concerns due to red tide?
A. For most people, it is safe to swim during a red tide, however some people may experience burning eyes and throats, skin irritation, coughing, sneezing, tearing and an itchy throat when red tide is in the water and winds blow its toxic aerosol onshore. Swimming near dead fish is not recommended. Experts advise people with respiratory conditions, including emphysema, bronchitis, and asthma, avoid red tide areas. Generally, symptoms are temporary and disappear within hours once exposure is discontinued. Most people find air-conditioned facilities decrease symptoms quickly. If you have symptoms, leave the beach and seek air conditioning. Since the red tide toxin is particulate matter when airborne, wearing a particle filter mask lessens effects while on the beach.
Q. What impact does red tide have on sea life and animals?
A. A red tide bloom can affect the central nervous system of fish. Just like people, a red tide can affect pets. Dogs can get sick from the toxins in the air, if they eat a fragment of fish or anything contaminated with the toxin or if they lick their fur after swimming. Dogs are only allowed on the sandy beach during specified times and locations related to the City's Dog Beach Program.
Q. Where does red tide usually occur?
A. The organism that causes Florida's red tides is found almost exclusively in the Gulf of Mexico. Blooms have been found off the east coast of Florida when carried out of the Gulf by the Florida Current and Gulf Stream Current.
Q. How long does red tide usually last?
A. Red tide can last days, weeks, or months and can change daily. The bloom depends on physical and biological conditions such as winds, currents, sunlight, nutrients and salinity.
Q. Is red tide a new phenomenon?
A. No. The first official reporting of red tide in Florida was in 1844.
Q. Is it safe to eat seafood in restaurants during red tide?
A. Yes. Commercial seafood and shellfish found in local restaurants, grocery and seafood stores must be harvested from red tide-free waters.
Q. Can I fish for seafood during red tide?
A. Fishing for shellfish should be avoided. No illness has been reported from eating filleted fish caught during a red tide.
Q. Is it ok to eat shellfish during a red tide?
A. No. If a shellfish harvesting ban is in effect, it is not safe to eat mollusks (clams, oysters and coquinas) and gastropods that feed on bivalves. However, edible parts of other animals commonly called shellfish (crabs, shrimp, lobster) are not affected by the red tide organism and can be eaten. The edible tissue of fish, crab and shrimp does not absorb the toxins so they remain safe to eat, however common sense should be used.
Q. Does cooking destroy the red tide toxin?
- Report a fish kill: Florida Fish and Wildlife 1.800.636.0511.
- For health related questions, call the Red Tide Hotline 24/7 at 1.888.232.8635.
- Check current red tide status information by county at http://www.floridamarine.org/