• Creating a weekly Harmful Algal Bloom bulletin

      Leadbetter, A.; Silke, J.; Cusack, C. (Marine Institute, 2018)
      This document describes the procedural steps in creating an information product focused on toxic and harmful phytoplankton. The product is an online Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) bulletin for aquaculturists, who can face serious operational challenges in the days after a HAB event. Data from satellite, numerical hydrodynamic models and In-situ ocean observations are organised and presented into visual information products. These products are enhanced through local expert evaluation and their interpretation is summarised in the bulletin. This document aims to provide both process overviews (the “what” of the Best Practice in producing the bulletins) and detail procedures (the “how” of the Best Practice”) so that the bulletins may be replicated in other geographic regions.
    • Establishing boundary classes for the classification of UK marine waters using phytoplankton communities

      Devlin, M.; Best, M.; Coates, D.; Bresnan, E.; O'Boyle, S.; Parke, R.; Silke, J.; Cusack, C.; Skeats, J. (Elsevier, 2007)
      This paper presents a description of three of the proposed phytoplankton indices under investigation as part of a classification framework for UK and ROI marine waters. The three indices proposed for the classification process are (i) phytoplankton biomass measured as chlorophyll, (ii) the frequency of elevated phytoplankton counts measuring individual species and total cell counts and (iii) seasonal progression of phytoplankton functional groups through the year. Phytoplankton biomass is calculated by a 90th percentile measurement of chlorophyll over the growing season (April to September) compared to a predetermined reference value. Calculation of functional groups and cell counts are taken as proportional counts derived from the presence of the indicator species or group as compared to the total phytoplankton count. Initial boundary conditions for the assessment of high/good status were tested for each index. Chlorophyll reference conditions were taken from thresholds developed for previous EU directives with the setting of offshore concentrations as a reference condition. Thresholds for elevated counts of phytoplankton taxa were taken from previous EU assessments describing counts that could be impact negatively on the environment. Reference seasonal growth curves are established using phytoplankton counts from ‘‘high status’’ waterbodies. To test the preliminary boundaries for each index, a risk assessment integrating nutrient enrichment and susceptibility for coastal and transitional waters was carried out to identify WFD waterbodies in England and Wales at different levels of risk. Waterbodies assessed as having low or medium risk from nutrient enrichment were identified as type 1 and type 2 waterbodies, and waterbodies assessed as high risk were identified as type 3 waterbodies. Phytoplankton data was extracted from the risk assigned waterbodies and applied to each phytoplankton index to test the robustness of the preliminary classification ranges for each phytoplankton index.
    • Irish National Phytoplankton Monitoring (Sites 41–45)

      Silke, J.; Cusack, C. (ICES, 2012)
      The Marine Institute in Ireland carries out a national phytoplankton monitoring programme which extends back to the late 1980s. This includes a harmful algal blooms (HABs) monitoring service that warns producers and consumers of concentrations of toxic plankton in Irish coastal waters that could contaminate shellfish or cause fish deaths. This programme is primarily located along the Atlantic seaboard and Celtic Sea. Scientists working on this monitoring programme have developed an understanding of phytoplankton populations and dynamics around the Irish coastline, especially in relation to those that cause shellfish toxicity. Particular emphasis is put on the detection and enumeration of harmful species. The importance of phytoplankton as an indicator of water quality is also studied and is a key component of the European Water Framework.
    • Phytoplankton and microbial plankton of the Northeast Atlantic Shelf

      Silke, J.; Kennington, K.; Bresnan, E.; Cusack, C. (ICES, 2012)
      The Northeast Atlantic Shelf region includes the sites from all coastal waters of Ireland, the Irish Sea, and western Scottish and Norwegian Sea waters. The region was defined by WGPME to include locations on the northern margin of Europe that were outside the North Sea/English Channel influence. The character of sites in the region are shallow, coastal-water sites ranging from sheltered bays on the south coast of Ireland and fjordic sea lochs of Scotland to fully exposed locations on the west coasts of Ireland and Scotland. Bathymetry of the region ranges from shallow embayments to regions of shallow, exposed continental-shelf waters. The topography of the shelf drops rapidly to 80–100 m within 20 km of the coast, where it extends to the shelf edge as a relatively flat plateau. Time-series of phytoplankton data from the Atlantic Shelf exhibit a typical seasonal pattern of temperate waters, with considerable geographical and temporal variation. The well-mixed winter conditions lead to a region-wide strong spring bloom observed at all sites. The ensuing decrease in nutrient levels lead to a variable summer period characterized by stratified conditions in coastal areas and periodic blooms of mixed or occasionally monospecific diatom and dinoflagellate composition. The growth period tails off in autumn, when a secondary bloom may occur in response to increased mixing and breakdown of the summer thermocline. The seasonal cycle returns to a quiescent winter phase, with generally mixed conditions, light limitation, and increased nutrients return. Seasonal stabilization and destabilization of the water column in this region accounts for most of the natural variation in both phytoplankton species composition and biomass.
    • Salmon Mortalities at Inver Bay and McSwyne’s Bay Finfish farms, County Donegal, Ireland, during 2003

      Cronin, M.; Cusack, C.; Geoghegan, F.; Jackson, D.; McGovern, E.; McMahon, T.; O'Beirn, F.X.; Ó Cinneide, M.; Silke, J. (Marine Institute, 2004)
      This report details the investigations into a major mortality of farmed salmon at Inver Bay and McSwyne’s Bay, Co. Donegal in July 2003. Previous reports were provided on 29th July 2003 and on 11th August 2003. The information is based upon analysis and research by MI scientists, a review of environmental data, survey reports by external consultants, inputs from veterinary practitioners who visited the site, reports from DCMNR staff in Killybegs, and site visits made by DCMNR / MI inspectors. Following a review meeting of the principal investigators on the 9th October, 2003, MI proceeded to carry out further scientific investigations. DCMNR also commissioned Kirk McClure Morton Consulting Engineers (KMM) to carry out a parallel investigation of the mortalities at Inver Bay and McSwynes Bay salmon farms. MI provided support as required to the KMM study, the report for which was furnished to DCMNR and MI on 11 February 2004. (KMM, 2004) MI wishes to acknowledge the high level of co-operation and assistance that it received from the owners and staff of Creevin Fish Farm Ltd, Eany Fish Products Ltd and Ocean Farms Ltd. It also wishes to acknowledge the assistance of veterinary practitioners, DCMNR staff and others in the course of this investigation.
    • Water Framework Directive: marine ecological tools for reference, intercalibration and classification (METRIC): final report for the ERTDI-funded project: 2005-W-MS-36

      Cusack, C.; O’Beirn, F.X.; King, J.J.; Silke, J.; Keirse, G.; Whyte, B.I.; Leahy, Y.; Noklegaard, T.; McCormack, E.; McDermott, G. (EPA, 2008)
      Water quality monitoring programmes exist in many of the Member States throughout the European Union (EU). With the implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD, Council Directive 2000/60/EC) all Member States must harmonise their national monitoring methods for each common metric (parameter indicative of a biological water quality element) used to determine the state of the aquatic environment to ensure consistent and comparable classification results for all biological community quality elements used (WFD Annex V, 1.4.1). The Marine Ecological Tools for Reference, Intercalibrationand Classification (METRIC) project, therefore, was designed specifically to support the Irish role in the EU Intercalibration Exercise of biological quality elements (BQEs) in order to set harmonised ecological quality criteria for the assessment of water quality in the transitional and coastal (TraC) waters of Europe. The BQEs investigated by METRIC included: Plants (phytoplankton, macroalgae andangiosperms), Benthic macroinvertebrates (soft-bottom habitat), Fish (estuarine).