The ‘Chocolate tube’: Testing polluted surfing beaches

LONG BRANCH, N.J. (AP) — Most surfers know it’s best to avoid surfing near pipes that dump storm water into the ocean soon after a storm, due to the increased chance of getting sick from bacteria.

But many do it anyway because the periods just after storms often bring bigger waves. Researchers from New Jersey’s Monmouth University are studying water quality at popular surfing beaches along the Jersey shore to document higher levels of harmful bacteria in the water after storms. Similar research is going on around the world by governments, volunteers and surfers themselves. New Jersey environmental authorities say the links between heavy rainfall, ocean discharge pipes and temporary spikes in bacteria levels have been well-documented. Surfers say they often brave post-storm conditions they call the “chocolate tube” or the “root beer float.”