Red Tide has been affecting Florida beaches for months now, and if you have clients heading to any Florida beach for a little R&R, you must stay informed of the red tide situation.

Red tide has predominantly been affecting the West Coast of Florida, however some areas on the East Coast have also shown signs of red tide. Currently, it is unsure how long red tide will last; red tides can last as little as a few weeks or longer than a year.

Red tide produces a toxin that may have harmful effects on marine life. However, the toxin can become airborne, which can cause eye irritation and respiratory issues in humans. People with respiratory conditions such as asthma may experience more severe symptoms. Keep this in mind when booking your clients’ travels, especially if they have asthma, emphysema, or bronchitis.

Beaches Closed
Over the weekend, stretches of South Florida beaches were shut down for possible red tide. On Saturday, Sept. 29 visitors in the Jupiter area complained of breathing problems and eye irritations, and the health concerns reached into Martin County. The town of Palm Beach also closed its beaches, as did Lantana farther south; and in Martin County, Hobe Sound Beach and Bathtub Beach were closed over the weekend, but were reopened on Sunday. Broward and Miami-Dade beaches have not been affected.

The Town of Palm Beach issued an alert on Oct. 1 stating that, “Beach visitors and Town lifeguards have reported that health effects including eye irritation, itchy throat, and coughing are being experienced in areas along the shoreline within the Town of Palm Beach. In an abundance of caution, the Town’s beaches are closed at this time.”

On Saturday, Sept. 29, the Florida Department of Health Palm Beach County issued a health advisory due to people experiencing respiratory issues and eye irritation along the beaches in Palm Beach County. According to the alert, The Florida Fish and Wildlife has taken water samples from 10 different locations and has sent those samples to their laboratory in Sarasota for testing. Results from that testing are expected today, or Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018.

red tide
Views of the beach from the Delray Beach Marriott. (Photo Courtesy of The Town of Palm Beach.)

Beach Status Around Florida
The latest reporting from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission from Sept. 28 show that in Southwest Florida K. brevis, the organism responsible for red tide, was observed at background to medium concentrations in or offshore of Pinellas County, low to high concentrations offshore of Hillsborough County, background to high concentrations in Manatee County, background to high concentrations in or offshore of Sarasota County, background to medium concentrations in Charlotte County, background to high concentrations in or offshore of Lee County, and low concentrations in Collier County. And in Northwest Florida it was observed at very low concentrations offshore of Walton County, low to medium concentrations in Bay County, background to medium concentrations in Gulf County, and background to very low concentrations in or offshore of Pasco County.

“We’ve had challenges with red tide this summer and are hopeful that these conditions will improve very soon,” says Francesca Donlan, communications director at The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel. “In the meantime, we hosted a successful songwriter festival and are encouraging our local business community to host deals so that folks come out to shop, dine and play.”

In addition, respiratory irritation was reported in Southwest Florida in Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, Lee, and Collier counties. During the past week, Northwest Florida did not have any respiratory irritation reports.

According to the NOAA website, currently there are no ways of controlling the occurrence of red tide, however, research continues to find ways to better address the causes and effects of harmful algal blooms. Not every beach is affected every day, and the best way for you to stay informed is to keep up to date with the NOAA conditions report.

Beyond the Beach
If your clients are heading to an area where red tide has affected or closed the beach, suggest other activities. For instance, The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel offer free distillery tours and tastings on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. The Wicked Dolphin Distillery offers these complimentary tours that last about 45 minutes. Also, now through Oct. 20 guests can take in the exhibit, Second Time Around: The Hubcap as Art by the Center for Visual Arts in Bonita Springs. The exhibit features 35 works by artists who reclaimed rusted car hubcaps into art. Kids can take part in free crafts for kids at the Miramar Outlets in Estero on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to noon. And for those who are into something a little more spooky for the upcoming holiday, there’s a Haunted History Tour and River District History Tour in downtown Fort Myers on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The Haunted History Tour, priced at $14, is a paranormal tour of historic downtown Fort Myers, while the River District History Tour, priced at $13, teaches visitors about some of the personalities of the founders of Fort Myers. Reservations are required for both tours. For a more extensive list of options for things to do when it’s not a beach day, click here.

For more ideas on what your clients can do when the beach is a no-go, check out “Red Tide Affects Florida: Explore Fun Beyond the Beach.”