Some east Florida beaches remain shut down as red tide lingers

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Two days after FWC confirmed the rare presence of red tide on the state’s east coast, the agency’s weekly update shows the extent of the toxic organism’s spread.

A new map released by FWC Wednesday shows low to medium concentrations of the Karenia Brevis organism off St. Lucie, Martin, and Palm Beach counties, and lower levels as far north as Volusia.

Red tide is an algae bloom that depletes oxygen in the water. The organism is often naturally present in the Gulf of Mexico but has been especially persistent in high concentrations off Southwest Florida for the last year.  It's caused a headache for beachgoers from Venice to Clearwater, and killed marine life along the coast.

Over the weekend, some Palm Beach County beaches were closed because of respiratory irritation blamed on red tide. Wednesday, as dead fish washed up along the shore, Palm Beach County officials said Wednesday that beaches will remain closed until Friday. 

Red tide is uncommon on the state's Atlantic Coast, with only eight outbreaks since 1953. The last outbreak in Palm Beach County was 10 years ago.

In addition to migrating over to the Atlantic coast, the algae is continuing to spread north along the Gulf Coast. Wednesday’s map showed low to medium levels of red tide all along the Florida Panhandle.

The heaviest concentration remained along Southwest Florida, though FWC noted “concentrations generally decreased in areas of Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties, creating patchier bloom conditions along the coast.”

LINK: More FOX 13 red tide coverage

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.