VALENCIA – On Monday afternoon, three beaches in Valencia in the cities El Puig, Puzol, and La Pobla de Farnals reopened. A swimming ban has been in place since 1.30 pm on Sunday after a huge red spot was visible in the water. Furthermore, some swimmers came out of the sea with skin irritations.
In the meantime – almost 24 hours later – the red flag (swimming prohibited) has been replaced by the yellow flag (risk) along the three beaches. However, people still must be careful when they go into the sea. Based on reports from the Ministry of Ecological Transition, the municipalities have concluded the risk to the population has disappeared.
Microscopic tests showed the abundant presence of microalgae. “The appearance of the spot occurred as a result of the massive spread of microalgae of the class Rhaphidophyceae. At certain tides, large red patches consist of this class of microalgae and have been described on numerous occasions.
During the summer periods in previous years, proliferations have been detected in areas of the Catalan coast. Also on other areas of the Valencian coast,” the ministry’s report states. However, the authorities emphasise the risk has been reduced and point out there is no toxic effect of the algal species on human health.
Phenomenon due to warming seawater
The stain is caused by decomposing algae. The phenomenon occurs when the sea temperature rises- And is ‘a bit dangerous’ especially for people with sensitive skin. It can cause hives, as La Pobla de Farnals Beach Councilor explained to Europa Press. He pointed out two people were treated at the emergency room this Sunday for itching on their arms and legs.
‘For prevention’ it was decided to raise the red flag and warn swimmers with beeps and via the public address system to get out of the water. However, people were allowed to go into the sea up to the knees to cool off a bit.
“At that time, we did not know the seriousness of the situation,” the councillor noted, pointing out that the stain appeared in Puzol and El Puig, from where it spread to the beaches of La Pobla de Farnals. “We didn’t know how far it could go,” he admitted.
The Coast Guard sent a boat to take samples of the water and to study the origin of the stain. It was soon concluded that it was decomposing algae.
The stain has since thinned, according to aerial photos taken on Monday by the regional Ministry of Agriculture and Environment. That dilution was also confirmed by water samples taken and examined on Monday.
Algae has recently affected other parts of Spain.