The Amplification of Indicator Bacteria Occurring as a Result of Kelp Mound Incubation Along a Protected Beach in Southern California

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Courtesy of Weston Solutions, Inc

 ABSTRACT

Pacific Beach Point (PB Point) in La Jolla, CA, has frequently exceeded state water quality standards for indicator bacteria. As a result, studies were designed to investigate bacterial transport mechanisms and possible bacterial amplification occurring within the extensive kelp mounds found along the beach wrack line. Investigations thus far have shown that the wrack line acts as a bacterial reservoir that can impact receiving waters. At PB Point, initial data indicate that bacteria reaching the kelp mounds via storm drains, birds, flies, and scour pond runoff undergo incubation and subsequent multiplication within the kelp debris located along the high-tide wrack line. As spring tides wash over the decaying kelp mounds and scour pond at PB Point, elevated bacteria levels occur in receiving water samples, often exceeding bacteria action levels. In related and ongoing studies, laboratory and on-site studies have been designed to confirm that fecal coliform and enterococcus bacteria reproduce rapidly under conditions typical of coastal beaches with large amounts of kelp present. These results have potential implications for managing recreational beach water quality throughout areas of the United States where kelp occurs.

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