Dr. Charles Manire, Director of Rehabilitation & Dr. Justin Perrault, Director of Research contributed to this blog.
As of 5 p.m. Monday, Loggerhead Marinelife Center has been notified officially by FWC that there are levels of Karenia brevis, the dinoflagellate that causes most red tide events in Florida, in the waters off the coast of Palm Beach County.
Knowing this, we are moving ahead with our plan to protect our current patients in the Sea Turtle Hospital at Loggerhead Marinelife Center and to prepare for accepting patients from the wild that might be affected by the toxins of red tide, known as brevetoxicosis. We are requesting emergency funding for the equipment and supplies required to monitor brevetoxin levels in sea turtles in a real-time, clinically significant manner and we are stocking up on a new medication used to treat brevetoxicosis (toxicity) by deploying a novel medication ‘detox’ therapy on sea turtle patients that may show signs of red tide distress.
For our own internal use, the Research Laboratory is evaluating water samples from the Juno Beach Pier, the beach in Loggerhead Park, and the intake water for the Sea Turtle Hospital for the presence of algae. The initial findings showed very small numbers of red tide organisms (see photo) from the waters off our beach. No organisms were found in the water that supplies the hospital.
Our hospital protocols call for continuous monitoring of our sea turtle patients and we will continue to monitor our patients during and through this incident. At the present time, none of our patients at The Sea Turtle Hospital at Loggerhead Marinelife Center are showing signs of red tide distress.
LMC’s Conservation Department participates in the statewide red tide monitoring program. Samples from the Juno Beach pier were sent off for analysis last week and results are expected soon.
Red tide events are rare on the east coast and are usually much shorter in duration that the ones that occur on the west coast of Florida due to the differences in oceanographic factors, such as depth, bottom topography, and currents. We are closely monitoring the situation and hope that this is a short-lived event with minimal impact.
For more information about Red Tide, please see our recent BLOG post on the science of algal blooms here.
The Sea Turtle Hospital at Loggerhead Marinelife Center is open however, the Juno Beach Pier will be closed until further notice. For up to date information please monitor this BLOG, our website, and our social media.
You can also find additional information at the FWC Red Tide Statewide Status website: http://myfwc.com/research/redtide/statewide