Thursday, July 19, 2012

Guest Blogger: Joe Mairo, Surfrider Foundation

A few years back I went surfing.  I had a slight rash on the inside of my thighs from surfing so much in nothing but shorts.  Going from sitting, to paddling on your belly over and over again will do that.  After my time in the water, one of the rash spots became infected.  That infection eventually landed me in the hospital where I was hooked up to IV antibiotics.  It was MRSA.  MRSA is short for Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus.  MRSA is an antibiotic resistant bacterium that if left untreated can be fatal.

Luckily, because I had access to top notch care the infection was stopped.  Even so, it was a long, painful process. My leg is still scarred today.  

Although I can't be 100% certain, I believe I picked up the infection in the ocean. I shared my story with the Jersey Shore Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, of which I am an active member.  Our Chapter is a proud part of the Clean Ocean Action COAlition.   

That day I found out that many of our members had similar stories.  After swimming or surfing, we had gotten eye infections, ear infections, sinus infections, and even MRSA infections that seemed to be from being in the water.   

Since that first discussion, our Chapter has created the Ocean Illness Form.  You can access it by clicking  here.  If you or someone you know has become ill after being in the ocean, bay, or estuarine coastal waters, please share your story with us.

The information gathered so far, 76 submissions, has been plotted on an interactive map that you can access by clicking here.

This map and our findings were presented to the Bureau of Marine Water Monitoring at the NJDEP in April.  

As we collect more submissions we will begin to see areas of poor water quality that need to be focused on.  As of now, one new area of concern is the outfall pipe that connects Wesley Lake with the ocean.  Wesley Lake lies on the northern end of Ocean Grove and the southern end of Asbury Park.  

We hope this ongoing project will shed light on, and help solve these problems and reduce pollution.    


Joe Mairo 
Vice Chair - Surfrider Foundation, Jersey Shore Chapter 

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