VERO BEACH, Fla. - Dead fish. Scratchy throats. Itchy eyes.
It sounds all too familiar in Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie County, where red tide has been confirmed in various concentrations.
Now, people in Vero Beach are reporting the same sights and symptoms. Officials with FWC, Indian River County and the Health Department are now working to confirm whether or not red tide has made its way further north.
“I have no doubt in my mind, I believe it is red tide,” said beachgoer, Samantha Palaggi. Beachgoers noticed the change in the air as soon as they stepped foot in the parking lot at Jaycee Park.
“As soon as we got out of the car and walking toward the beach, I’m going ‘Oh my!’” Said beachgoer Bob McElwain. “Scratchy throat,” described beachgoer Jacqueline Fogoros.
“Makes your eyes water,” said her husband, Jerry Fogoros.
The change happened in the last 24 hours, according to Palaggi. “We were here yesterday evening. It wasn’t like this.”’ Dozens of dead fish lined the beach Monday afternoon. Dalton Jones, the manager at Waldo’s Restaurant and bar, located right along the water, said they are having to adapt. He closed off outdoor seating to protect his staff and customers.
“Even if I open those doors or anything, people inside, you’ll hear people coughing over here, or over there,” Jones said.
He does not expect the air quality concerns to hurt business too much, for now.
“Obviously we’ll slow down a little bit.” Jones says they just finished remodeling outdoor seating.
“This just opened up a week and a half two weeks ago. Excited for everyone to see it, but unfortunately, we have to wait for the [possible] red tide to leave before we can really start getting everyone out here,” Jones said.
Beaches are still open.
County officials, in an abundance of caution, should the state department of health confirm red tide, released the following recommendations:
• 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.