Diary of a volcano visit. Day 2, sampling the Sicilian coastline

Today one of our groups went to four sites along the Sicilian coastline to assess whether these sites were suitable for the award of a Blue Flag. We were lucky to see some beautiful sunshine on the coast, but the sea was the roughest it’s been in recent years. This made conditions challenging for water quality sampling.

Sampling at the first site took place on the wave-cut platform beneath the Norman Castle of Aci Castello. Waves were sweeping across the platform, so sampling was conducted in the pools that were readily filled by each approaching wave. All samples were collected successfully but the odd large wave did leave some with wet feet!

Next stop was the scenic fishing village of Santa Maria la Scala, a short walk down to the beach was rewarded with an icecream and by some interesting sanitary surveys of an area suffering from waste from a variety of different sources (slabs of marble being one of the more difficult to explain).

The third stop took us to the expanse of beach at Fondachello, where samples were taken from the mouth of the Fiumefreddo River.

And finally our last stop was Giardini Naxos with its more established tourist areas. Here we stopped for a spot of lunch and carried out membrane filtration to determine the quantity of faecal indicator bacteria in samples from each site.

The results of this testing will follow in the next 48 hrs where the sanitary quality of each site will become clearer. Watch this space …

Guest author: Dr Sarah Purnell

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