Monaco’s beaches and sea, they are the equivalent of yellow gold and blue gold for all our visitors. Tourists attracted to Monaco and residents alike need to be absolutely assured of the quality of the sea-water along Monaco’s shoreline. And so Monaco’s beaches are zones put under special observation and protection.
This means that as regular as clockwork through the season Nicolas Bonnet does not allow himself the luxury of the “Monday morning blues”. That means no calling in sick on a Monday! Because Monday is the key day each week for sampling the sea-water around six of Monaco’s beaches. And everything that is blue around our beaches must be certified clean and safe.
So if you are swimming on a Monday and you see Nicolas leaning over the side of his boat lowering his “magic wand” into the water, you can rest assured that several scientific analyses are going on. The wand is in fact a special instrument, a probe that reads the acidity of the water, amount of oxygen and the salt content. The analyses don’t stop there. Nicholas looks at the clarity and transparency of the water, the colour, and assures himself of the absence of traces of any particles or oily matter.
He will direct the boat to Monte Carlo Beach, the Meridian, to the East and West coves of Larvotto, the Solarium and “Plage des Pecheurs”. Each one is tested. And to be absolutely safe, there is one more important step. And this requires use of a sophisticated laboratory onshore belonging to Monaco’s Department of the Environment. Nicholas now swaps his suave seaman’s outfit for a white laboratory coat and once onshore in the lab sets about testing for things that cannot be seen with the naked eye. The most important testing to ensure safe bathing is for bacteria.
So if you remember your chemistry lessons from school and how penicillin was discovered, Nicolas goes about putting his water samples in culture to multiply any bacteria in the water. And then test tubes are held under a special beam to detect fluorescence that will assure him any bacteria are at levels safe for bathers. In fact two testing regimes take place. One yields results after 24 hours for rapid response if needed – and then there is a second set of detailed results that follow a day later.
What Nicholas and everyone wants to see is that from May through September the readings are at the right end of the three range scale Good/Average/Bad. Happily, the quality is for the vast majority of the time at the top of the scale in the good range. Go for a Monday morning swim one day and watch out for Nicolas in his boat with his magic wand. And you can be assured of the continuing magic that is the Côte d’Azur – not the least of which the cleanliness and safety of its water, particularly around Monaco.