Marine researchers in the Cook Islands are hoping a new survey can determine a link between poor water quality at beaches and sickness experienced by swimmers.
The Ministry of Marine Resources is conducting the three week survey in Rarotonga with the hope of using data to establish its own national water quality standard for the first time.
The lead researcher Emma Castel, says previous studies have revealed strange peaks of bacterial charge in marine waters, indicating faecal pollution.
"And the aim of this survey is really to see if when we have those peaks of bacteria, we have peaks also of illnesses, and to be sure that this is really correlating and that the enterococci bacteria we use as an indicator for this pollution really is accurate."
Emma Castel says she hopes a national water quality standard can be established by the end of next year.