British Researchers Want Surfers to Give a Shit

A new study about ocean pollution asks surfers to provide rectal swabs

A group of U.K. researchers are conducting a study to examine the connection between surfers who are exposed to pollution at their home break and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. As part of their study…wait for it…researchers are requesting rectal swabs from a pool of 150 participants. The project, which is referred to as the "Beach Bum study" (we shit you not) is currently asking for volunteers who live and surf in Wales, Northern Ireland, and England. Here's the overview from the UK-based Surfers Against Sewage organization:

"We are working with scientists from the University of Exeter Medical School and calling on surfers across the country to help by providing samples gathered from rectal swabs. In the first project of its kind, the study wants to recruit 150 surfers and bodyboarders who surf at least three times a month. In a novel approach to data collection, the team is also asking each participant to recruit someone who doesn't surf."

The study hopes to shed light on drug resistant bacteria, a major issue facing humanity. According to Anne Leonard, a researcher involved in the study, surfers are exposed (and apparently ingest) more contaminated seawater than other ocean-goers.

"We know that surfers regularly swallow lots more seawater than other beach users–around 170 ml per session, which is more than 10 times that of sea swimmers," said Leonard. "We've already shown that this water may contain antibiotic resistant bacteria but we have no idea how this might affect the microbes that live in our guts, or how it could impact upon health. So we're asking healthy adults who surf or bodyboard at least three times a month to take part in a study that will shed much needed light on the effects of marine pollution."

Prospective participants who quite literally give a shit are encouraged to contact david@sas.org.uk, who will send out a kit to collect their rectal swabs as well as a short questionnaire.