Water Quality, Red Tide, Algae Blooms

Water quality should be something that’s on every surfer’s mind. It’s no use going for a surf if it leaves you with a nasty headache, sickness, disease, or dead.

Surfing After it Rains

In highly developed coastal areas, like Southern California, with infrequent rain, water quality can become really bad after a rainfall.

It’s recommended to stay out of the water for at least 72 hours after a rain.

When its not raining, everything on land – oil, trash, waste, even sewage – washes into the ocean. The contaminates come not only from the coastal cities but from rivers that feed into the ocean too.

All this run-off rushes a huge concentration of bacteria, junk, and nastiness into the ocean. It’s especially concentrated near river mouths, drain pipes, and harbors.

Your chances of getting sick, getting a bacterial infection or even contracting a disease increase after a rain.

Red Tide

Red Tide describes algae blooms, which can either be non-toxic or extremely harmful depending on certain conditions.

The algae blooms are created by phytoplanktons, which form the bottom of the food chain. Phytoplankton thrive on sunlight and nutrients found in the water. Under normal conditions, their population is kept in check by the availability of nutrients, the amount of sunlight that gets to deeper, cold water, and getting eaten. But, under the right conditions, the populations can explode, or “bloom.”

Algae blooms typically occur when there is a period of warmth followed by a sudden upwelling of cold water. The cold, nutrient rich waters rises to the surface, the phytoplankton have access to sunlight, and the population grows exponentially.

While many of these phytoplankton are good and necessary for the food chain, some types are toxic and can devastate ecosystems and environments. Plants die, animals die, and humans can get sick or die depending on the toxins released by the algae.

In particular blooms, certain shellfish and seafood is recalled as consuming them can pass the toxins to you.

These events can also lead to bioluminescence as the waves break and the algae are disturbed.

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