Water Testing Activity


Do you like clean water? Well fish do too! 

But how do we know if our water is clean or dirty, and what makes it dirty?

With your $25.00 tax-deductible contribution to the Marine Exploration Center, you can be a part of science and take part in a live experiment.



How it works: 

There are many things (parameters) that we can test for in the ocean. Two common ones are pH and nitrate. Your water quality kit contains materials to test for both of these parameters.

Kit Contents:

•  pH test strip(s) and color chart

•  Nitrate test strip(s) and color chart

•  Information and instructions pamphlet


Visit your favorite local beach and take your kit. Submit your results and we will post them live by date in comparison with hundreds of other participants along our Gulf Beaches and Tampa Bay. 



Science Lesson


What is pH, and why is it important?

pH is a measure of how acidic something is. It is measured on a scale of 0-14, the lower the number, the more acidic a substance is. For example, the pH of stomach acid is around 2 (very acidic), while the pH of pure water is 7 (neutral). The ocean can vary in its pH depending on where you measure, but most surface ocean water has a pH of about 8.

Changing pH can impact the health of marine life. If pH is too low, certain organisms can have a very difficult time growing and reproducing. Marine animals that grow shells and skeletons such as clams, snails, and coral (called calcifying organisms) are very vulnerable to low pH.



What is nitrate, and why is it important?

Nitrate is a chemical used for a variety of things. On land, it is commonly used as an ingredient in fertilizers for farming and gardening. In the ocean, it naturally comes from fish and animal waste. Just like on land, where nitrate fuels plant growth, it fuels the growth of algae in the ocean.

In the oceans, a little nitrate is normal. Nitrate helps grow algae and phytoplankton, which form the base of most marine food webs. A lot of nitrate however, can be bad. Too much nitrate fuels too much algae growth, which can smother bottom-dwelling organisms, cause fish kills, and lead to red tides.

Chemicals and fertilizers like nitrate can be washed from land to sea by rainfall, polluting marine habitats that are close to land such as bays and estuaries.