The closure of beaches in Vera & Cuevas “have no time limit” according to the town halls, who issued a joint statement last night.
The Andalusian Ministry of Health recommended the closure of the beaches after a dangerous microalgae which can causes rashes and respiratory difficulties was detected in the water on Tuesday. Dozens of bathers have needed medical attention after coming into contact with the algae. The algae also gets washed up onto the beach where it dries out and can be breathed in by people walking along the shore, so a restriction is in place on how close you can get to the high tide level on the beach.
Three beaches are currently affected:
- 1.400m of Quitapellajos beach in Palomares, up to 30m from the high tide level
- 550m of Villaricos beach up to 40m from the high tide level
- 1.200m of El Playazo beach in Vera (the one connecting to Garrucha) up to 100m from the high tide level
However, Cuevas townhall has been criticised for only implementing 30m and 40m high tide restrictions instead of the 50m requested by the Ministry of Health. Some people are suggesting that the restriction was lowered to prevent local beach bars from becoming no-go areas.
The Mayor of Vera is holding a series of meetings today with local business owners near the beaches to explain the situation to them, and says he is in daily contact with the Health people. He explained that since El Playazo beach is so big, he has doubled the restriction from the high tide level to close the whole section of beach to prevent confusion amongst tourists.
Twice daily water samples are being taken by the Ministry of Health to check on the levels of the algae and to see if it is spreading or contracting. The Mayor of Garrucha says that so far her beaches have not been affected but that water samples have been taken to check the water is OK.
The Ministry of Health says that there is no problem with swimming outside the affected areas, and that if the algae is detected elsewhere it will recommend the townhalls close or reopen the affected beaches. It is thought that high temperatures and local water pollution have caused this bloom in the algae, who are in themselves a perfectly natural phenomenon, although normally there aren’t enough of them in the water to cause a problem.
Local police and life guards have been assigned to warn people away from the affected areas and to explain what the problem is.
Meanwhile, local residents in Villaricos expressed bafflement as to why wild campers still insisted upon parking their camper vans right up against the closed section of beaches.