Several beaches in Jupiter were closed Saturday afternoon after complaints about respiratory and skin irritations while at the beach, local media reported.
At least 10 people have reported having breathing problems at the beaches, according to WPLG Local 10. The symptoms are consistent with exposure to red tide algae, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Palm Beach Fire Rescue Capt. Al Borroto sent out the alert for a 2.5-mile stretch of shoreline from the Jupiter Inlet to Carlin Park, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Earlier on Saturday, the Martin County Fire Rescue issued an advisory for Hobe Sound Beach and Bathtub Beach.
“Beach goers are reporting respiratory issues consistent with Red Tide, which may be present,” the advisory, posted to Facebook, reads. “The beaches are open to swimming, however residents with respiratory issues are advised to avoid Hobe Sound and Bathtub Beaches at this time.”
A WPTV reporter based in Palm Beach County shared photos to social media of lifeguards wearing protective masks a sign at Coral Cove Park that read it was closed due to “possible biological threat in water.” Another local reporter with WPTV said beach goers had complained of headaches and coughing.
Jupiter Police said that the medical issues could be caused by wind and algae, WPTV reports.
Fire rescue is working to pinpoint the cause of the irritant, while crews clear out the beaches, according to WPLG Local 10. Photographs shared to social media show barren shorelines at some beaches.
Dan Comerford, the mayor of Jupiter Inlet Colony, said the Palm Beach County Health Department was testing water samples to determine if red tide was to blame for Saturday’s incident.
“We suspect that it’s red tide,” he said.
While red tide is a natural occurrence, this year’s tide has been remarkably deadly and long-lasting. After beginning near Sarasota in November, the tide has been blamed for scores of dead marine life washing up along the coast of Southwest Florida. In August, Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for several western counties affected by the red tide or at risk of being affected, including Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Manatee counties.
This story will be updated when more information is available