Background Information

The overgrowth and accumulation of green, red or brown seaweeds can lead to the development of various macroalgal blooms. Examples of the different types of seaweeds include Ulva (green), Agarophyton (red) and Ectocarpus ​(brown). These types of blooms are a common consequence of high nutrient loading (eutrophication) into intertidal zones such as estuaries and bays as a result of anthropogenic (human) pressures.

Given the nature of bloom development, they are often used as a biological indicator of eutrophication, and monitored closely by the EPA to help estimate the water quality and extent of coastal pollution in affected areas. 

Field Sampling Design

By Land

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  • At low tide, macroalgal samples were collected in the bloom using quadrats
  • Samples were collected at sampling points along transects perpendicular to the coastline 

By Sea

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  • Filtered and unfiltered water samples were collected at high tide along the estuarine coastline
  • Samples were tested for nutrient and organic matter content

By Air

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  • Manned drone with hyperspectral camera was flown over all macroalgal bloom sites
  • Images of bloom coverage were collected and analysed to estimate macroalgal bloom extent

In the Laboratory

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To help us understand the ecological characteristics and tolerance levels of different environmental conditions for bloom-forming seaweed species, we are growing and maintaining the various species in the lab. This gives us the opportunity to carry out a number of experiments, where we are examining the biological effects of changes in conditions such as salinity, temperature and light on bloom-forming species.