Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK

Research Article

An investigation of periodic hypoxia at Ardbear Salt Lake

Louise M. Henrya1 c1, Robert Kennedya2 and Brendan F. Keegana2

a1 Vet Aqua International, Unit7B, Oranmore Business Park, Oranmore, Galway, Ireland

a2 Zoology Department, Martin Ryan Marine Science Institute, National University of Ireland, Galway, Galway, Ireland


The factors potentially leading to the development of periodic hypoxia were investigated based on field studies performed over a series of two years between November, 1997 and November, 1999. This was attempted by investigating both hard and soft seafloor. Descriptive and predictive models were developed that incorporated physical, chemical and biological data derived from the present study and previous work and were used to anticipate future possible crashes of the faunal communities due to hypoxia/anoxia. It was concluded that periodic hypoxia at Ardbear is a natural event caused by several factors to varying degrees. The results of the present study indicate that the major controlling factors for oxygen depletion are the shallow depth of the system, coupled with the development of thermal stratification during periods of calm ambient meteorological conditions of the warmer summer months. In addition, a soft, muddy bottom and highly productive plankton blooms exacerbate conditions in a system already predisposed to hypoxia.

(Received April 11 2006)

(Accepted March 27 2008)

(Online publication July 22 2008)