Too many pooping seagulls? NJ beach bacteria levels explained
LONG BEACH — Swimmers have more than rough surf to worry at Jersey Shore beaches.
Nine beaches are under advisory as of Wednesday morning based on testing by the state Department of Environmental Protection for high levels of bacteria as of Wednesday morning including seven on Long Beach Island.
DEP spokesman Larry Hajna said that Bennett Beach in Wildwood came off the advisory list Wednesday morning after retesting results. More beaches are expected to come off today.
The rough surf created by three tropical systems in the Atlantic Ocean may be to blame for the higher levels of bacteria. He said the LBI beaches usually don't have any issues.
"We've had no rain and they're not located next to any storm water discharge pipes so the results didn't make sense to us," he said.
"One of the theories we're looking at is that with all the churning water coming up onto the beach there could be areas where groups of seagulls defecated and the sample caught the bacteria from the droppings."
The seagulls along with the birds may have been attracted to seaweed and other natural things that may have washed up on the tide line including small critters that seagulls and birds are feeding on.
Another theory is that the waves could have broken up the off-shore shelves of mussels.
"The mussels are related to a type of bacteria to the one DEP tests for and it's possible the lab results picked up it," Hajna said.
The beaches with advisories still in effect are:
- Atlantic County: Somers Point City beach on New Jersey Avenue
- Monmouth County: Spray Avenue Beach in Neptune
- Ocean County:
Taylor Ocean Front, Beach Haven
Leeward Beach, Beach Haven
Stockton Avenue Beach, Long Beach Township
Joan Beach, Long Beach Township
South Third Street, Ship Bottom Borough
14th Street, Ship Bottom Borough
North 10th Street, Surf City Borough
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.