Red Tide hits beaches in Sebastian, Vero Beach

Red Tide seen in Sebastian, Vero Beach, Florida.
Red Tide seen in Sebastian, Vero Beach, Florida.

SEBASTIAN, Florida – Just a few hours after Sebastian Daily broke the news that Red Tide was seen in Vero Beach south of the Sebastian Inlet, Indian River County officials say they were working to “assess conditions.”

“There are indications that Red Tide has reached Indian River County and we are working closely with the Indian River County Department of Health to assess conditions,” a statement reads from officials.

“There have been reports of sporadic dead fish and mild respiratory irritation. There are no Indian River County beach closures at this time. The Department of Health is collecting samples for both confirmation and the potential level of Red Tide based on the number of organisms present,” the statement read.

While the Sebastian Inlet appeared to be fine early Monday, several people in Vero Beach contacted Sebastian Daily to report the existence of Red Tide on several beaches.

“We’ve been coughing all morning, and it’s only been worse since we walked the beach this morning,” a Vero Beach resident told Sebastian Daily.

Many people also questioned why the county never warned residents or didn’t close the beaches.

Red Tide along Vero Beach.
Red Tide along Vero Beach.

“Lifeguards at tracking station are wearing masks because it’s so bad,” Lifeguard Michael Flinn told Sebastian Daily.

The lifeguard tracking station is south of John’s Island and 1 mile north of Jaycee Beach.

On Monday afternoon, Sebastian Daily investigated the beach south of John’s Island, which appeared to show signs of red tide. There were dead fish on the beach, the air made us cough, and we now have sore throats.

Sebastian Daily contacted the FWC Monday afternoon based on our observations along the beach just south of John’s Island.

Local residents say it’s Red Tide as they have experienced this in the past.

“It’s definitely Red Tide, you can smell it, makes you cough,” John Naft told Sebastian Daily.

“We’ve seen it before, I don’t know, ten years ago, it was even worse than this,” Naft added.

Towards late afternoon, there are indications that Red Tide is now in Sebastian.

The Department of Health cautionary recommendations for Red Tide:

  • People, especially those with respiratory issues, are encouraged to stay away from the beaches if possible for the next 2-10 days. Persons may experience throat irritation and/or coughing if directly exposed to Red Tide.
  • Higher wind or tides can spread it more quickly.
  • Dead fish are not to be eaten! Be cautious with any fish caught from the southeastern coast of Florida.
  • Do not consume shellfish of any kind caught in this area until it passes.
  • Please visit www.myfwc.com/redtidestatus for more information.

We will continue to update the status of Red Tide as more information becomes available.

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About Andy Hodges
Andy Hodges grew up in Jupiter, Florida where he began his career in radio and TV broadcasting for over 12 years. He would make a career change to computer programming. Andy spent seven years working for tech companies in Atlanta before moving to Indian River County in 2002. He returned to the news sector in 2005 as a writer. Andy joined Sebastian Daily in 2016 as our editor in chief.