MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Miami Dade cop on an ATV, wearing a gas mask, was enforcing the closure of Haulover Park beach Thursday.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez ordered all beaches from the Haulover inlet to the county line closed, lifeguard stands shut down, after tests revealed medium concentrations of red tide algae off Haulover and to the north.
Late Thursday, Gimenez said that those beaches would reopen on Friday morning.
Two women with their dogs aborted their Thursday morning beach outing.
“I know that it’s extremely toxic, I know it’s in the air, it can get in the air and stuff, so I know it’s dangerous to be out there for humans and pets alike,“ said Gretchen Costello, as she was leaving the park with her little dog.
The county said red tide levels at Haulover are high enough to trigger respiratory problems and fish kills. Worrisome, too, are samples off Miami Beach and Key Biscayne that came back “very low” to “low,” not enough, at least not yet, to warrant closing one of the world’s most famous beaches.
At Haulover Marina, those who make their living off the sea were understandably concerned about the red tide’s arrival.
“It’s not good, bad for tourism, bad for us. We need to fix it, for sure,” said Captain Chad Reney of the charter boat Old Hat.
Some who work on the water see an unprecedented red tide as being exacerbated by man-made pollution.
“I think that with education and people being aware of the situation, we can really try to change the situation so that we don’t have to have this happen again,” said Lt. Matt Sparling of Miami-Dade Ocean Rescue, the lifeguard operation.
A group of recreational fishermen moved from the north to the south side of the Haulover inlet.
“This morning we went to the other side and we saw a lot of seaweed and it smelled a lot, stinking,” said fisherman Juan Robertson.
The stench is growing to the North in Palm Beach, Martin and Saint Lucie counties, where beaches are closed and marine life dying.
Marine biology professor from University of Miami Dr. Brand discusses red tide:
The red tide has devastated Florida’s West coast for months, rendering the shores, the gulf, and inlets a cesspool, an environmental disaster.
The city of Miami said Thursday it would begin testing the waters of Biscayne Bay to see if the red tide algae has infected interior waters that are rich with nutrients that the marine disease feeds on.
To the north, Boynton Beach Oceanfront Park is also closed Thursday “due to red tide,” according to city officials. The park, which is the city’s only public beach, stretches for several blocks along the ocean.
Palm Beach County beaches that are open include Phil Foster Park, Peanut Island, and Ocean Ridge Hammock. In an abundance of caution, many Palm Beach County beaches remain closed.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is offering $3 million in grants to St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties to help mitigate the effects of red tide. DEP and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) have been in contact with each impacted county to ensure they have every resource needed to combat red tide. Additionally, DEP and FWC continue to monitor for red tide along Florida’s coasts.