Clean Ocean Action

Do You Know What You're Swimming In?

Currently, monitoring for pathogens is done using indicators, such as fecal coliform and enterococci.  Indicator bacteria such as these are not directly harmful to humans, but are typically found in the presence of other harmful viruses and bacteria.  These indicator pathogens are easy to test for and make the monitoring process more clear, although many pathogens, like viruses, still are not monitored.  The rationale for this is that several conclusive studies have proven that the incidence of disease contracted by swimmers is in a direct relation to the amount of indicator bacteria.  Basically, swimming in polluted water can make you sick.  It is important to recognize that this pathogen pollution can happen because of discharges from wastewater plants, as well as from runoff from the land along the New Jersey shore.  In recent years, runoff has been the primary reason for elevated bacteria levels detected at NJ ocean beaches.


NJ Fact:According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, New Jersey is one of only 2 states to close beaches when bacteria levels are violated.  For more information about beach closures, visit or



49 Avenel Blvd.
Long Branch, NJ 07740

Field Office:

Gateway National Recreation Area
Sandy Hook, New Jersey

Voice: (732) 872-0111
FAX: (732) 872-8041

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