• Karenia mikimotoi: An Exceptional Dinoflagellate Bloom in Western Irish Waters, Summer 2005

      Silke, J.; O'Beirn, F.X.; Cronin, M. (Marine Institute, 2005)
      A protracted bloom of Karenia mikimotoi was present in summer 2005 along the northern half of the western Irish coastline. The onset of this bloom was identified in late May / early June. This event subsequently dissipated over the month of July and was succeeded by a bloom of the same species in the southwest in late July. The bloom was very intense and resulted in discolouration of seawater and foaming in coastal embayments. Major mortalities of benthic and pelagic marine organisms were observed and a complete decimation of marine faunal communities was reported and observed in several locations. Deaths of echinoderms, polychaetes and bivalve molluscs were observed in County Donegal and Mayo, while farmed shellfish and hatchery raised juvenile bivalve spat suffered significant mortalities along the Galway and Mayo coasts. Reports of dead fish and crustacea were received from Donegal, Galway, West Cork and Kerry. Karenia mikimotoi is one of the most common red tide causative dinoflagellates known in the Northeast Atlantic region, and is also common in the waters around Japan. Blooms of this species often reach concentrations of over several million cells per litre and these densities are often associated with marine fauna mortalities. Although cytotoxic polyethers have been extracted from cultures of the species, the exact mechanism of the toxic effect and resultant devastating damages yet remains unclear. It is known in the literature under several different names as the taxonomy and genetics have been studied. It is now known that previously reported names including Gyrodinium aureolum, G. cf. aureolum, G. nagasakiense and G. mikimotoi are synonymous with the current name given to the organism. The visible effects following the mortalities included noticeable quantities of dead heart urchins (Echinocardium cordata L.) and lugworms (Arenicola marina L.) deposited on beaches. Several species of wild fish were also found dead. The bloom coincided with a period of fine weather and tourists visiting the seaside were concerned about the safety of swimming in waters that were obviously harmful to marine organisms on this scale. A public awareness programme was mounted by the Marine Institute with several radio broadcasts, press releases and a website provided to give up to date pronouncements on the event. While there have been several instances of Karenia mikimotoi blooms reported in Ireland over the past 30 years, this scale of mortalities associated with the 2005 bloom were not previously observed. Recording the scale of this event was facilitated by satellite imagery while direct counts of the cells in seawater by the Marine Institute monitoring programme gave very useful information regarding the size and intensity of this event. The mortalities of marine organisms were documented from reports made by various observers and by Marine Institute field surveys.
    • Organisms associated with oysters cultured in floating systems in Virginia, USA

      O'Beirn, F.X.; Ross, P.G.; Luckenbach, M.W. (National Shellfisheries Association, 2004)
      The number and abundance of macro-fauna! taxa was estimated from six floating structures (floats) used to culture the Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) near Chincoteague Island, Virginia, USA. After a 10-mo grow-out period, all organisms found among and attached to the cultured oysters were counted. The final mean size of oysters was 80.5 (14.7 SD) mm. Overall, 45 species of macrofauna were recorded with the number of species in the floats ranging from 24 to 36. There was no relationship between the number of taxa and the density of oysters in the floats. Total abundances of associated organisms were estimated at 12,746/float to 92,602/float. These findings highlight the diverse (taxonomic and trophic) and abundant nature of communities associated with cultured oysters. They also provide a baseline set of information that may help more clearly define the interactions between oyster culture and the environment.
    • Pea Crab, Pinna theres ostreum Say, 1817, in the eastern Oyster, Crassostrea virginica (Gmelin, 1791): prevalence and apparent adverse effects on oyster gonad development

      O'Beirn, F.X.; Walker, R.L. (California Malacozoological Society, 1999)
      Incidence of pea crab, Pinnotheres ostreum Say 1817, infestation in the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica (Gmelin, 1791), was recorded and related to oyster gametogenic activity over 18 months. Sampling occurred at twO tidal heights (high intertidal HI and low intertidal LI) at two sites (House Creek, HC and Skidaway River, SR) in Wassaw Sound, Georgia. Overall, incidence rates were 3% HC LI, 1 % HC HI, 8% SR LI, and 4% SR HI. At both tidal heights at HC, no differences were observed in gonad area between those oysters with and without pea crabs. At SR (where overall incidences were higher), oysters without pea crabs had significantly higher gonad area values than those oysters with pea crabs present. These results suggest that at higher incidences of pea crab infestation, oyster reproductive capabilities could be impacted, and support the claim that the pea crab/oyster relationship is a parasitic one.
    • Preliminary recruitment studies of the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, and their potential applications, in coastal Georgia

      O'Beirn, F.X.; Heffernan, P.; Walker, R.L. (Elsevier, 1995)
      Oyster recruitment was monitored in Wassaw Sound, Georgia from April through October, 1991. The study was initiated to determine precise recruitment patterns of oysters over the 7 month spawning season. One of the goals was to determine the most suitable time for the collection of natural spat for maricultural, fisheries and recreational purposes. Three sites of varying hydrographic characteristics were chosen in Wassaw Sound. The sites varied in terms of temperature and salinity regimes and in their exposure to wind and wave action. Within each site, oyster recruitment was estimated at three tidal heights; subtidally, at mean low water and intertidally, approximately 2 h above the mean low water mark. Sampling took place so as to measure net recruitment over biweekly (BW), monthly (M) and seasonal ( S) periods. The results indicated that the recruitment of oysters in this region of coastal Georgia is protracted, lasting 6 months (May through October). The levels of recruitment were very high relative to other regions on the east coast of the USA, with peak recruitment for the entire study area (x = 2800 spat m- 2 for BW and x = 3020 spat m- 2 for M) occurring between July and September. The intensity of recruitment varied significantly among the three sites. The most sheltered site in terms of wave exposure experienced the highest recruitment (x =4380 spat m- 2 BW; x = 6260 spat m -2 M). This site also had higher overall water temperatures as well as greater daily temperature fluctuations. The least sheltered site had the lowest numbers of young oysters (x = 1000 spat m- 2 BW; X. = 686 spat m- 2 M), as well as having the most stable temperature regime. The biweekly samples generally experienced higher recruitment subtidally at the three sites. The monthly samples had higher numbers of oyster spat at the mean low water mark while the seasonal samples showed significantly higher recruitment intertidally (up to x =7353 spat m-2 ). The shift in recruitment patterns over time is partially attributed to increased subtidal predation pressure on the recruits. The collection of natural spat in relation to the natural fishery, potential maricultural activity and the recreational fishery is discussed.
    • Prevalence of Perkinsus marinus in the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica in relation to tidal placement in a Georgia tidal creek

      O'Beirn, F.X.; Dean, C.C.; Walker, R.L. (Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium of Alabama, 1994)
      This experiment was designed to evaluate the effects tidal zonation and bottom placement of the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, have on the prevalence and intensity of the oyster parasite, Perkinsus marinus a suspected causative agent for subtidal oyster mortalities experienced in the coastal waters of Georgia. Twelve growout bags (1 m x 0.5 m; 12.7 mm mesh), each containing 200 oysters, were placed in Jointer Creek, Georgia In March 1992. Bags (3 replicates each) were placed lntertidally and subtidally on the creek bottom and offbottom. Ten oysters per bag were removed monthly for twelve months beginning March 1992, and were inspected for prevalence and intensity of Perkinsus marinus, using the thioglycollate method. Oyster mortality and shell length data were also evaluated. Neither prevalence (p = 0.3505) nor intensity levels (p = 0.2993) of Perkinsus marinus in oysters were significantly different among the treatments. Although there were no significant differences In prevalence or intensity of the pathogen among treatments, the intertidal offbottom treatment had the lowest values most frequently. Perkinsus marinus was present in all replicates every month. Prevalence and intensity of infection followed the typically observed pattern of maximum values in summer and fall and minimum levels in winter. Subtidal bottom oysters experienced higher mortalities (p = 0.0022), but the prevalence and intensity of Perklnsus marinus in oysters were not significantly different between treatments. It appears therefore, that the oyster parasite, Perkinsus marinus is not the discerning factor in the higher mortalities witnessed in oysters placed subtidally on the bottom in the southeastern U.S. coastal waters.
    • Reproductive biology and parasite (Perkinsus marinus) prevalence in the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, within a Georgia tidal river

      O'Beirn, F.X.; Walker, R.L.; Jansen, M.L. (Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society, 1997)
      Recruitment, in 1992, of the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, at one site (Flume Dock) within the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve (SINERR) was lower than other sampling sites. Recruitment allied with gametogenesis and parasite (Perkinsus marinus) prevalence within the oysters was examined in 1993, in an attempt to explain the differences observed the previous year. Sampling occurred at three sites (Marsh Landing, Jack Hammock, and Flume Dock) along the Duplin River within the SINERR. Oyster recruitment in 1993 was reduced in all sites within the SINERR. No oyster recruitment was recorded at the Flume Dock site during any monthly collections or on collectors deployed for the duration of the sampling study. Oysters developed gametogenically and spawned at the Marsh Landing site two weeks prior to their occurrence at the Jack Hammock site. Gametogenic development in oysters at the Flume Dock site was retarded a further two weeks where the males appeared to spawn six weeks after the females, which could account for reduced recruitment levels at this site. Approximately, twice as many females as males occurred in all sites. Monthly sampling of prevalence and intensity of Perkinsus marinus (Dermo) revealed high levels of both parameters. Smaller oysters did display lower prevalences of Dermo than larger forms.
    • 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.
    • Survival and growth of juvenile freshwater mussels (Unionidae) in a recirculating aquaculture system

      O'Beirn, F.X.; Neves, R.J.; Steg, M.B. (American Malacological Union, 1998)
      An indoor recirculating aquaculture system was constructed to provide suitable conditions to culture juvenile freshwater mussels. In the first of three growth trials, Villosa iris (I. Lea, 1829) juveniles were cultured for 22 wk, and grew from an initial mean length of 0.4 mm to 2.7 mm. Survival was 26.8% overall. In the second trial, growth and survival were compared between juveniles of V. iris held in sediment and without sediment. The initial mean length of both groups was 2.7 mm, and this experiment ran for 17 wk. The juvenile mussels in sediment grew to a mean length of 5.7 mm with 85% survival, significantly greater (p < 0.01) than juveniles held without sediment (4.5 mm, 74% survival). In the third trial, two cohorts of juvenile Lampsilis fasciola Rafinesque, 1815, increased in length from I.I mm and 1.4 mm to 3.3 mm and 4.1 mm, respectively, with comparable survival (78.7% versus 64.5%). Results of these trials demonstrate that juvenile mussels can be reared successfully within recirculating systems. One of the factors deemed important in successful culture is continuous feeding of an appropriate food source. In this study, a unialgal culture of Neochloris oleabundans Chantanachat and Bold, 1962, was used throughout. Regular cleaning of the system and water replacement also was important. Finally, the culture of juveniles in sediment appears to be an important factor in ensuring good growth and survival. This phenomenon could be related to pedal feeding behavior, proper orientation of the mussels for filtering efficiency, or stability from physical disturbance.
    • Toward design criteria in constructed oyster reefs: oyster recruitment as a function of substrate type and tidal height

      O'Beirn, F.X.; Luchenbach, M.W.; Nestlerode, J.A.; Coates, G.M. (National Shellfisheries Association, 2000)
      Restoration of degraded oyster reef habitat generally begins with the addition of substrate that serves as a reef base and site for oyster spat attachment. Remarkably, little is known about how substrate type and reef morphology affect the development of oyster populations on restored reefs. Three-dimensional, intertidal reefs were constructed near Fisherman's Island, Virginia: two reefs in 1995 using surfclam (Spisula solidissima) shell and six reefs in 1996 using surfclam shell, oyster shell, and stabilized coal ash. We have monitored oyster recruitment and growth quarterly at three tidal heights (intertidal, mean low water, and subtidal) on each reef type since their construction. Oyster recruitment in 1995 exceeded that observed in the two subsequent years. High initial densities on the 1995 reefs decreased and stabilized at a mean of 418 oyster/m2. Oyster settlement occurred on all reef types and tidal heights in 1996; however, postsettlement mortality on the surfclam shell and coal ash reefs exceeded that on the oyster shell reefs, which remained relatively constant throughout the year (mean = 935 oysters/m2). Field observations suggest that predation accounts for most of the observed mortality and that the clam shell and coal ash reefs, which have little interstitial space, suffer greater predation. Oyster abundance was consistently greatest higher in the intertidal zone on all reefs in each year studied. The patterns observed here lead to the preliminary conclusion that the provision of spatial refugia (both intertidal and interstitial) from predation is an essential feature of successful oyster reef restoration in this region. In addition, high levels of recruitment can provide a numerical refuge, whereby the oysters themselves will provide structure and increase the probability of an oyster population establishing successfully on the reef.