Popular Hawaii tourist beaches closed due to bacteria

High bacteria levels in ocean water have caused the closing of three Hawaii tourist beaches in the Aloha State.

In Waikiki, Queens Surf beach as well as the Ewa side of Ala Moana Beach Park have signs posted warning swimmers of the high bacteria levels.

Both beaches recorded levels around 10 times beyond the threshold for enterococci, commonly found in the digestive system of mammals and birds which are excreted in feces. This pathogen has caused millions of human infections every year, mainly from exposure to recreational waters like beaches. Fortunately, infections are usually easily curable.

Also included on the list of closed beaches is popular Hanauma Bay on the island of Oahu where tourists go to mostly engage in snorkeling. The visitor center and upper park is still open. Kohola Lagoon at Ko Olina and Pokai Bay on the Ewa side of the island also posted bacteria advisories.

Punaluu Beach Park on the Windward side of Oahu was under a brown water advisory, which means contaminants could be in the ocean water due to run-off from the mountains that usually carry animal feces.

The Hawaii Department of Health provides up-to-date information on water conditions throughout the islands at its clean water website. The Department will continue to monitor the water, taking samples which take 24 hours to process.

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