Clam Beach’s dirty water makes annual Beach Bummer list; New study finds birds are the source
According to Heal The Bay’s 2020-21 beach report card, Clam Beach at Strawberry Creek is the seventh worst in the state. The environmental nonprofit’s Beach Bummer list ranks the state’s 10 most polluted beaches according to water sampling data.
Clam Beach has posted failing summer dry grades in seven out of the last 11 years Heal The Bay has published its report cards.
Humboldt Baykeeper director Jennifer Kalt said strong evidence indicates high levels of bacteria in the ocean waters can be linked to birds, as opposed to bacteria originating from cattle in the freshwater stream.
“Even though the levels of bacteria are high enough to get an F grade on the Beach Bummer list, the genetic analysis shows (the bacteria) is primarily from birds,” she said. “And so, in the ocean, you have the influence of birds because there’s so many birds at the beach.”
Kalt also pointed out the risk of bacteria from these sources is lower compared with bacteria coming from human sources, found in samples affected by septic runoff.
The number of bacteria coming from human feces is low in the streams.
“As far the freshwater goes in the creeks, there were very few human markers found, which means that (the contamination) is not coming from septic systems, which is what a lot of people think,” she elaborated.
Ginger recommends any beachgoers or concerned visitors stay safe from any potential danger by checking water quality updates at BeachReportCard.com, as water conditions can improve or worsen throughout the day, and sampling is done weekly. He also recommends staying 100 yards away from the mouth of Strawberry Creek when in the water.
“We just want folks to be aware of that and be cautious of the creek mouth whenever they’re out there, that’s going to be the best way to protect themselves,” he said.
Four other Humboldt County beaches which the county monitors posted passing grades. Mad River Beach’s northern mouth was awarded an A+ grade, while Little River State Beach at Moonstone County Park and Trinidad State Beach at Mill Creek were both given B grades. Luffenholtz Beach at Luffenholtz Creek received a C grade after appearing on the Beach Bummer list in 2017 and 2018.