MADISON, Wis. — Anabelle Vesperman and her best friend Camille decided to take Friday off as a day to celebrate a big milestone in their lives.
“We’re graduating tomorrow. So we both took the day off of work and we’re just coming to the beach,” Vesperman told Spectrum News 1’s Andrew Havranek.
She wasn’t aware Olbrich Beach was closed to swimming until she got there.
“I see those small signs there, but there should be stuff on the beach not to get in, because I don’t look over at those [life guard] stands,” Vesperman said. "I would just get right in and swim if I wanted to.”
But, Public Health Madison and Dane County officials are urging swimmers to not swim at the beaches at BB Clarke, Olbrich, Warner, and Hudson parks because of blue-green algae blooms.
They’ve also closed beach assess at Fireman’s Park in Verona as a precaution.
The algae could cause irritation to skin, and cause other health issues for people, but it can be extremely dangerous for pets.
“They’re most likely to ingest the water. It can make them very sick. It can be toxic to their system,” said Jennifer Braun, a microbiologist with Public Health Madison and Dane Counties. "They can get it on their fur, then they lick their fur, and get more toxin in their system.”
So, what about all of the wind surfers or people who want to take a kayak or boat on to the lake?
Braun said they should be safe, as most of the algae its closest to the shoreline.
“The further out you get away from the shore, the better it is,” Braun said. "So, people out windsurfing, out on their boats, on a kayak, they’re probably going to be okay. The water is going to be a little cleaner, it’s going to be nicer, and they’re not going to be putting themselves at as much risk.”
As for Camila Galarza, who also spent Friday afternoon at the beach, she said if she needs to cool off in the water, she will, but said she’d be more aware of the risk.
“We’ve been to other beaches, but it’s kind of, it’s not like we came here just to swim,” Galarza said.
Health officials say if beach-goers do get in the water for any reason at those five beaches to make sure they rinse with clean water and wash hands before touching their face or eating.