High bacteria levels found at several popular beaches; Hanauma Bay forced to close

Pokai Bay
Pokai Bay(Hawaii News Now/file (custom credit))
Updated: Jan. 10, 2019 at 2:39 PM HST
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OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - High bacterial levels were detected Wednesday at several beaches across Oahu, and have even prompted the closure of a popular spot.

The state Department of Health Clean Water Branch said inspectors found elevated levels of enterococci at the following beaches:

  • Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve (137 per 100 mL)
  • Ala Moana Regional Park (659 per 100 mL)
  • Two sites at Queen’s Beach in Waikiki (1,298 per 100 mL and 1,445 per 100 mL)

The normal level for enterococci doesn’t surpass 130 per 100 mL. DOH officials issue alerts when levels exceed 130.

Due to the elevated levels, a city spokesperson said Hanauma Bay would be closed on Thursday. The upper viewing area, parking lot, and visitor center will remain open.

Myeong Kim, a visitor from Korea, said she was disappointed to learn the beach was closed.

“So sad. I wanted to swim there. I don’t have many days here, so we will look around other sites,” said Kim.

Officials say swimming in waters with elevated bacteria counts could make you sick. Children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are most vulnerable.

The most common symptoms associated with swimming in affected waters include nausea, vomiting, stomachache, diarrhea, headache or fever. Other minor illnesses include ear, eye, nose and throat infections.

But the warning wasn’t enough to keep many beachgoers out of the water here in Waikiki.

“The water was nice and clean from what I could see,” said Canadian visitor John Jonker. “We didn’t see any problem in the water at all, and we never noticed anything on the shore either. Everything is nice and clean.”

The advisories will remain in effect for the beaches until levels return to normal.

In addition, a Brown Water Advisory has been issued for Punaluu Beach Park in Windward O‘ahu.

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