The MERA Investigation
WHAT: An innovative, beach water quality investigation that considers human behavior, water quality, and human health
WHY: To improve beach management and protect public health in Costa Rica, other tropical regions, and throughout the world
WHO: Scientists from Southern Methodist University, the University of South Florida, and Biological Consulting Services, INC. work in collaboration with Costa Rican institutions, Universities, and non-governmental, non-profit organizations
WHERE: A beach along the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica
WHEN: January 2017 through December 2022, on-site research during 2017-2019
MERA is an investigation with real-world implications
People’s health and the condition of environmental resources that they enjoy (like beaches!) are connected. In this innovative investigation, we combine water quality measurements with information that we collect on environmental change, people’s activities at the beach, and local choices about water management. We will analyze these things together to better understand people’s health and identify what things could potentially damage coastal water resources. We will use what we learn from the study to suggest avenues to improve health and well-being for beachgoers. We will also provide options to help sustain and protect coastal ecosystems. MERA is the first study of its kind in a tropical setting. By collaborating with our Costa Rican partners, this investigation can help improve how local leaders manage coastal areas. As well, the study will provide information to people all over the world, improving everyone’s understanding of how human health relates to environmental conditions, a key aim of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Ultimately, the MERA investigation is designed to help keep people healthy and make sure that the environmental resources on which they depend are healthy as well.