Transdisciplinary beach water quality investigation hits 2-year milestone

Multi-institution team supported by US NSF collected over 5000 beach surveys and hundreds of samples as they darted in and out of the waves of Costa Rica over 26 weekends

Written by Dr. Erin Symonds, MERA coordinator and USF postdoctoral researcher

Over the course of the past year, MERA investigators and research assistants executed simultaneous water quality, epidemiological, and ethnographic studies at a popular beach along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica in order to collect the information necessary to better understand coastal recreation, safe swimming conditions, and how to best manage the beach from a public health perspective. During a total of 26 weekends, all collaborating MERA institutions worked together with 33 Costa Rican undergraduate students to collect all the data needed. Each weekend, a team of approximately 14 people worked together to initiate epidemiological surveys with over 5,000 beachgoers, collect over 150 coastal water samples, and execute over 500 behavioral observations on the beach, and conduct semi-structured interviews with more than 80 stakeholders, including health practitioners, national and international beachgoers, and local tourism employees.

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