The Simplest Way To Keep A Beach Clean Is To Get A Border Collie

A border collie patrols the beach as part of a study on reducing E. coli contamination. Image: Elizabeth Alm

An easy way to keep a beach free from pollution is to get a dog, according to a new study.

But it has to be a border collie because, according to American researchers, they are effective at reducing seagull congregation on recreational beaches resulting in lower E. coli in the sand.

Gull droppings may contain bacteria with the potential to cause human disease and can lead to beach closings.

At the beginning of the summer, 200-metre sections of beach were arbitrarily assigned to be dog-treated beaches or control beaches.

Halfway through the summer, the beach sections were swapped, so that dogs were moved to the control beaches and the dog-treated beaches were then left to be untreated controls.

During the summers of 2012 and 2013, researchers recorded the number of gulls at each beach section. Once each week samples of beach water and beach sand were collected.

In early summer, samples from beaches where dogs had excluded gulls had significantly lower E. coli counts compared to control beaches.

“Border collies are intelligent dogs that love to work and could be used by beach managers as part of a comprehensive management strategy to reduce bacterial contamination at public beaches,” said researcher Elizabeth Alm from Central Michigan University.

This research was presented as part of the 2014 General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Boston, Massachusetts.

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