35 Superstar Beaches (And 17 You Might Want to Reconsider)
If one of your favorite summertime activities is a trip to the nearest beach (or a vacation to the shore), then you’ll want to read this.
How healthy is your beach? Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
In its 24th annual beach report released yesterday, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) designated 35 popular U.S. beaches across 14 states as “superstars.” Beaches were rated on how closely they met water quality safety benchmarks; the superstars met the standards 98 percent of the time during the past five years.
But before perusing the list of 35, think about this: why aren’t all U.S. beaches superstars?
The fact is that 10 percent of the water samples collected in 2013 from nearly 3,500 coastal and Great Lakes beaches contained levels of bacteria that failed to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s most stringent benchmark for swimmer safety, as outlined in EPA’s newly created “Beach Action Value.”
“Sewage and contaminated runoff in the water should never ruin a family beach trip,” said NRDC senior attorney Jon Devine. “But no matter where you live, urban slobber and other pollution can seriously compromise the water quality at your favorite beach and make your family sick.”
The report card, Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches, confirms that serious water pollution continues to be a problem at many U.S. beaches. Sewage overflows and stormwater runoff persist as the biggest known sources of contamination. According to EPA, up to 3.5 million people get sick annually from contact with raw sewage from sanitary overflows. Exposure to contaminated beach water causes waterborne illnesses in swimmers such as stomach flu; dysentery; hepatitis; respiratory ailments; rashes; pinkeye; ear, nose and throat problems; and neurological disorders.
“This means two things,” said NRDC attorney Noah Garrison. “First, people need to make sure they know what’s in the water at the beaches they visit, and to choose their beach carefully.”
To help choose your beach, here are NRDC’s 35 superstar beaches:
Alabama: Gulf Shores Public Beach in Baldwin County
Alabama: Gulf State Park Pavilion in Baldwin County
Alabama: Dauphin Island Public Beach
California: Newport Beach in Orange County (1 of 3 monitored sections)
• Newport Beach—38th Street
Delaware: Dewey Beach-Swedes in Sussex County
Florida: Bowman’s Beach in Lee County
Florida: Coquina Beach South in Manatee County
Florida: Fort Desoto North Beach in Pinellas County
Georgia: Tybee Island North in Chatham County
Hawaii: Hapuna Beach St. Rec. Area in Big Island
Hawaii: Po’ipu Beach Park in Kauai
Hawaii: Wailea Beach Park in Maui
Massachusetts: Singing Beach in Essex County
Maryland: Point Lookout State Park in St Mary's County
Maryland: Assateague State Park in Worcester County
North Carolina: Ocean Pier at Main St. and Sunset Blvd. in Brunswick County
North Carolina: Beach at Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Dare County
North Carolina: Ocean Pier at Salisbury Street in Wrightsville Beach in New Hanover
North Carolina: Ocean Pier at Ocean Blvd. and Crews Ave. in Topsail Beach in Pender County
New Hampshire: Hampton Beach State Park in Rockingham County
New Hampshire: Wallis Sands Beach at Wallis Rd. in Rockingham County
New Hampshire: Wallis Sands State Park in Rockingham County
New Jersey: Washington (Margate) in Atlantic County
New Jersey: 40th St. (Avalon) in Cape May County
New Jersey: 40th St. (Sea Isle City) in Cape May County
New Jersey: Stone Harbor at 96th St. in Cape May County
New Jersey: Upper Township at Webster Rd. in Cape May County
New Jersey: Wildwood Crest at Orchid in Cape May County
New Jersey: Broadway (Pt. Pleasant Beach) in Ocean County
New York: Long Beach City in Nassau County
Virginia: Virginia Beach at 28th St. in Virginia Beach County
Virginia: Virginia Beach at 45th St. in Virginia Beach County
Virginia: Back Bay Beach in Virginia Beach County
Virginia: Virginia Beach—Little Island Beach North in Virginia Beach County
Washington: Westhaven State Park, South Jetty in Grays Harbor
The report also includes a list of 17 repeat offenders, with the Great Lakes region having the highest failure rate for water quality samples, and Ohio rating worst among the states where water samples were drawn. Sections of these beaches have persistent contamination issues, and water quality samples failed to meet health standards more than 25 percent of the time over the past five years.
Here are the 17 repeat offenders:
California: Malibu Pier, 50 yards east of the pier, in Los Angeles County
Indiana: Jeorse Park Beach in Lake County (both monitored sections):
• Lake Jeorse Park Beach I
• Lake Jeorse Park Beach II
Massachusetts: Cockle Cove Creek in Barnstable County
Maine: Goodies Beach in Knox County
New Jersey: Beachwood Beach in Ocean County
New York: Main Street Beach in Chautauqua County
New York: Wright Park—East in Chautauqua County
New York: Ontario Beach in Monroe County
Ohio: Lakeshore Park in Ashtabula County
Ohio: Arcadia Beach in Cuyahoga County
Ohio: Euclid State Park in Cuyahoga County
Ohio: Noble Beach in Cuyahoga County
Ohio: Sims Beach in Cuyahoga County
Ohio: Villa Angela State Park in Cuyahoga County
Ohio: Edson Creek in Erie County
Wisconsin: South Shore Beach in Milwaukee County
How to eventually make all U.S. beaches superstars? NRDC offers evergreen solutions such as protecting streams and wetlands and boosting green infrastructure.
NRDC's infographic illustrates how natural solutions can keep beaches clean:
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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