Document Type


Date of Original Version





Vibrio parahaemolyticus densities in the Narragansett Bay, R.I., estuary were found to significantly correlate with the level of fecal pollution in the water. Results of field investigations showed a definite association between the levels of this organism and those of Escherichia coli, Clostridium perfringens, and enterococci. Densities of V. parahaemolyticus were greatest in the near-surface waters of contaminated areas and decreased sharply with both the distance from the sources of fecal pollution and the depth of the water column. A positive association with the amount of particulate matter in the water and specifically with its zooplankton content also was found. No association was obtained with any of the physical or chemical parameters examined except dissolved oxygen. The results of laboratory studies on the growth of V. parahaemolyticus in collected estuarine waters were consistent with the field observations in that nutrients in sewage did not directly produce any increase in natural or inoculated levels of the organism. Of several particulates added to the water, only chitin and net zooplankters (live or dead) supported the growth of V. parahaemolyticus. The addition of sewage to the water had no measurable effect, whether or not the various particulates also were present. The data show that wastewater effluents have an effect on V. parahaemolyticus densities in this estuary and indicate that the effect is indirect, probably mediated by biostimulation of the food chain and manifested at the level of the microfauna.