BRIGANTINE, N.J. (CBS) — The Coast Guard has suspended its search for boaters reported missing about a half mile off the coast of Brigantine, New Jersey. But the report is still being taken seriously, officials said Sunday.

Coast guard Chief Nick Ameen said the call came in from local police shortly before 6 p.m. Friday reporting that three or four people were spotted in the water.

“There were a couple different reports,” Ameen said. “People thought they might have seen a boat capsizing, and then subsequently they thought they might have seen people in the water.”

But after 22 hours with no sign of a vessel in distress or the boaters, the search involving boat crews, a helicopter and an 87-foot cutter was called off late Saturday afternoon.

Ameen said there has been speculation about the possibility of a hoax. Even so, he said the Coast Guard isn’t dismissing the report.

The Coast Guard is here to protect people on the sea,” he said. “So we’re ready to answer the call, and if someone thinks they see something, it’s better to report it than shrug it off like it’s nothing.”

No boaters have been reported overdue in the region, but Ameen said it’s possible a search and rescue case could be reopened if more information becomes available.