This year, Dulra Nature Tours, in collaboration with Meas Mara an Mhuirthead, and the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT), have set-up a research which focuses on the marine plankton diversity and basking shark distribution within the coastal waters of the Mullet peninsula. The aim of the research is to examine the relationship between basking shark sightings and primary production (phyto- and zooplankton) within the coastal waters of Erris.
Between May and September dedicated land- and boat-based surveys will be conducted to determine the basking shark abundance and distribution. During boat surveys, samples of phyto- and zooplankton will be taken at fixed sampling stations, in order to determine the seasonal change in plankton abundance and diversity. The research vessel “Dulra na Mara” is equipped with the ChloroFlow, a photo spectrometer, designed by Spectral Signatures. The ChloroFlow provides an alternative method of quantifying the algal content of environmental waters, based on in-vivo absorption measurements of chlorophyll. These measurements, combined with the analysis of the plankton diversity and abundance will provide a first insight into the plankton community, its seasonal trends and productivity.
Using both the plankton and basking shark data-sets, we try to examine the relationship between these two, and understand when, why and how many basking sharks visit the Erris area. Additionally, the study results will provide information on the local water quality, help identify the development of Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB), and assess the feasibility of developing marine-based industries such as sea-weed-, and shellfish farming within these waters.
For more info please contact Machiel Oudejans or visit one of the websites below.
Machiel Oudejans (scientific coordinator)