We know you've already done it, but is it okay to pee in the ocean?
General: Kid Friendly
It's a pretty common question that people ask all the time, "Is it okay to pee in the ocean?" First off, you've probably already done it and I'll bet that regardless of the answer we give you'll keep doing it anyhow. In fact, Procter & Gamble did a survey about this once and found that 62% of people admitted to peeing in the ocean (how many wouldn't admit it?). On top of that, 48% of the respondents said they've done it more than once. Clearly we are a shameless society. But the answer to this question is more than just Beach Etiquette so let's dive in.
Does Peeing In The Ocean Attract Sharks?
Maybe you've even heard that peeing in the ocean attracts sharks! We're all curious about this one, right? Yikes, if that's true I bet many of you will certainly stop warming the waters, so to speak. The good news on the shark front is that peeing in the ocean does not attract sharks. Or so that seems to be the case according to experts.
National Geographic (or NatGeo if you're a hip, youngster) actually did a test on this a while back. They had two divers in the water and one had a bottle of urine that would slowly seep into the water while the other diver did not. There was no reaction from the sharks with the urinating diver so that seems to support the idea that this is just a myth. Still worried about sharks? Read Shark Attacks In Hawaii.
Do Chemicals In Urine Pollute the Ocean?
Supposedly, your pee actually doesn't pollute the ocean. The logic here is that urine is 95% water that also contains sodium and chloride ions, which is what makes up table salt (though we do not suggest drying your pee for salt). The ocean is also mostly water, around 96%, and has even larger concentrations of sodium and chloride ions.
Okay Bill Nye, so what about that urea that it's your urine? Urea is a carbon-based compound that helps your body get rid of nitrogen. When the nitrogen in your urea combines with ocean water it produces ammonium which actually acts like a sort of food for ocean plants. You're basically fertilizing the plants when you pee.
Besides, all of the marine life in the ocean is peeing all over the place. Some whales can produce over 250 gallons of urine every day! Of course, if you just had a plate full of asparagus and cuttlefish this logic may not apply! Or, at the very least, when that smell comes up people around you will know what you've done.
Can Urine Damage Coral Reefs?
Yes! The nitrates and phosphates that come from urine can actually increase algae growth that can suffocate and kill coral. But one person peeing can't actually do this level of damage. It requires the waste of many people being dumped into the ocean over long periods of time. This has actually happened in parts of the world like the Mexican Riviera when the treated wastewater that was fed into the ground water made its way into the ocean. But you making your bladder gladder isn't enough to cause an issue.
What About Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)?
This is a common question and if you research it a bit you'll see a lot of people asking about getting a UTI from the ocean or a swimming pool if they pee in it. Most doctors will tell you that peeing in a pool or the ocean cannot give you a UTI. But these bodies of water are often filled with bacteria so the key here is proper hygiene. Shower before you get in any pool so you're not adding to the bacteria in the pool. After you get out of a pool or the ocean be sure to shower off again and don't sit around in a potentially bacteria-ridden, wet bathing suit all day. Dry off and change clothes if possible.
Can I Pee In The Pool?
This reminds me of a sign I once saw that read, "Welcome to our ool, notice there is no P in it. We'd like to keep it that way." There is the science that says that the uric acid in your pee could interact with the chlorine in the pool and create cyanogen chloride and trichloramine which are very dangerous to humans. Logically though, the levels of chlorine to make that reaction dangerous would be so ridiculously high that you'd be dead from the chlorine alone.
The real reason not to pee in the pool? It's just gross. Besides, if you pee in the pool the water will turn blue around you and we'll all know it was you! Make sure your kids know of this scientific fact as well, at least if they're going in the same pool as me.
Can I Poop In The Ocean?
No. And let's save ourselves some time here: You can't poop anywhere except for an actual designated pooping station (toilet). Anything less than following that rule means you're an animal. Maybe an exception can be made for being in the woods somewhere in an emergency situation. Be sure to keep animals away from the beach as well and make sure they're not dropping any dueces on the beach as that poses a health hazard for beachgoers.
So, Should I Pee In The Ocean Or Not?
No, you should not pee in the ocean unless there are no other options at the time. I know, everything above here says it's okay though! Look, I get it, it's convenient and often less disgusting than the porta-potties or gross beach park bathroom facilities. Ladies, I feel your pain in having to sit down to pee in those places. Still, you shouldn't pee in the ocean if it can be avoided and you're near an actual beach.
First off, plan ahead and try to pee before you enter the ocean. This is common sense people seem to lack. If you're in the water for so long that you have to pee again then get out and go pee in the bathroom! Besides, if you've been in that long it's time to put on more sunscreen to Protect Yourself From Sunburn & Skin Cancer anyhow. So don't do it just because you're lazy, that's the real message here.
So what if there is no bathroom at a particular beach and thus no options what-so-ever? Then pee away in the ocean. Just make sure you're not anywhere near others when you do it. Of course, we'll all know you're peeing as you head off to be alone and have an odd look of super-focused concentration on your face! For more ways on how to be a good beachgoer, be sure to read Beach Etiquette. You can also find beaches with bathrooms to avoid having to pee in the ocean.
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