Concerns regarding the
environmental wellbeing of Kinsale Harbour have been expressed throughout the
years. In 1991, Sinead Neiland, a PHD student attending NUI Galway, completed a
study that had been conducted over a 13-year time span. The purpose of this study
was to find evidence of any effects of the effluent from the Eli Lilly
Pharmaceutical plant in Dunderrow on the macrofaunal diversity within Kinsale Harbour.
This pharmaceutical plant had been built in 1978. However, the study found that
the plant caused no deleterious effects on the subtidal and benthic
environment. In general, there have been very few investigations conducted
within Kinsale Harbour relating to the classification of benthic macrofauna and
their distribution. The studies that do exist are based around a number of
subtidal sampling sites (Kennedy et al, 2011) (Dinneen et al 1986) (Neiland et
al 1991). This report describes the first intertidal sediment and
macroinvertebrate analysis survey carried out in Kinsale Harbour in September
Prior to sampling, 17 stations
were chosen using the mapping tool ArcGIS. It was ensured that the stations
were accessible via road. Over two days, 5 cores were taken from each of the 17
sampling sites. These cores were divided into two separate buckets and labelled
with the site name, and the number of cores (either 2 or 3) which the bucket contained
(i.e. a bucket containing 2 cores from site K2 was labelled KIN17ITS-K2-2 and a
bucket containing 3 cores from site K2 was labelled KIN17ITS-K2-3). This was
carried out in order to facilitate further studies such as infaunal quality
index investigations (IQI) and pollution analysis (Kennedy et al, 2011). Two
buckets from each site resulted in 34 buckets in total. The 17 sites chosen
were divided amongst three participants for macrofaunal analysis. Each of the cores
extracted for macrofaunal analysis at each sampling site, were taken from areas
of that site that were considered to be most representative of the area at
large (i.e. the most typically observed areas within the sites). The most
recent, geographically relevant key was used for the identification of all marine
macrofauna (Handbook of Marine Fauna of North-West Europe (Hayward and Ryland
1995)). Once identified, all names were cross-referenced against the WoRMS
online database. Figure 1 is a map Kinsale Harbour, including all the chosen sampling
Scientific and societal
fascination with intertidal ecosystems has resulted in a greater emphasis on
the protection of these environments. Changes brought about by global warming
have huge implications for intertidal habitats for a variety of reasons.
Climate change incorporates fluctuations in weather patterns across the globe,
including, changes in wave and current patterns. An increase in temperature may
result in deleterious implications for intertidal habitats, as a rise in sea
levels could potentially alter the dynamics of the ecosystem. Intertidal
habitats spend a partial amount of time above and below sea level. This time
correlates with high and low tides. The rise in sea levels would potentially
result in these habitats spending a greater amount of time submerged in water
(Jickells and Rae, 2005). The importance of intertidal habitats is now becoming
more apparent. These areas are being used for the study of biogeochemical
processes, marine invertebrate communities and more recently, climate change
and the movement of materials from land to sea (Hiscock et al, 2001) (Malcolm
and Sivyer 1997). Past macrofaunal distribution studies provide a valuable
insight into the effects of climate change on benthic communities. Water
temperature and air temperature are crucial in terms of macrofaunal abundance.
Each separate species within intertidal communities occupies a distinct
temperature regime. Increased/ decreased abundance of a distinct species over a
prolonged period of time can map the rise and fall of their associated
temperature regimes (Hiscock et al, 2001).
Prior to the practical phase of
habitat and sediment sampling, the 17 intertidal sampling stations were
determined using the geographical mapping tool, ArcGIS. The 17 sites in
question were chosen on the basis of their suitability as well as their
accessibility; (i.e. It was ensured that each of the sites were accessible via
road and foot). Habitat and sediment
sampling took place over the course of 2 days during September 2017. Once
participant availability had been determined, the dates chosen to carry out the
fieldwork were entirely dependent on the tidal cycle. Sampling could only take
place during low tide.
Each of the 17 sampling sites was
located using a hand-held GPS. Upon arrival, the GPS was used to record the
exact locations of each of the 17 sampling sites. The figures provided by the
GPS were necessary to map the precise locations of the sites on ArcGIS. The latitude
and longitude for each of the 17 sites can be seen in Table 1.1 (the field log)
in the “Observations” section of this report.
Over two days of fieldwork, a
total of five 0.01m2 cores were taken from each of the 17 sampling sites. The
five cores were taken from areas of the site that were representative of the
area at large. These cores were divided into two separate buckets and labelled
with the site name, and the number of cores (either 2 or 3) which the bucket
contained. (i.e. a bucket containing two cores from site K2 was labelled
KIN17ITS-K2-2 and a bucket containing three cores from site K2 was labelled
KIN17ITS-K2-3). Each bucket and tag within each bucket were labelled as such.
These samples were used for macrofaunal analysis. The separation of the 5 cores
was carried out in order to facilitate further studies such as habitat quality
studies and other quantitative investigations. Sediment samples were also taken
at each of the 17 sites and labelled in the same manor. The samples were also
taken from areas of the site that were representative of the area at large. The
bag was labelled, as were the contents.
A field log containing detailed
descriptions of each of the sites was kept for the duration of the study (Table
1.1). The field log contains details which were noted throughout the sampling,
such as, sediment type, location, time of sampling, low water time and any
observed fauna, pollution or algae.
Photographs (containing the exact time) were also taken at each of the
sampling sites using a waterproof camera.
17 sediment samples and a total of
34 buckets were taken back to the Galway lab. Formaldehyde was added to each of
the 34 buckets. The 17 sediment samples were placed in a freezer until needed
for sediment analysis. Prior to macrofaunal analysis, the 34 samples were
divided amongst the 3 participants involved in the study. This was done in
order to evenly distribute the workload and to encourage more-accurate species
extraction and identification. This
particular report emphasizes the findings of 11 of the 34 samples. These
samples are K2, K4, K6, K8, K10, K12, K14 and K16. Both sediment and fauna
samples are required to produce a marine habitat classification.
All of the 34 buckets (containing
either 2 or 3 cores) were sieved using a 1 mm mesh in order to expel any excess
mud and sand. The material left behind included plant debris, gravel, stones,
shells and any macroinvertebrates present. The retained material was kept in
the original, labelled bucket where ethanol and protein dye were added. This
was done in order to dye all proteins (animals) red. This made the fauna easier
to extract. The ethanol was added in order to preserve the sample until the
beginning species extraction. All fauna was extracted from the samples using
microscopic examination. The fauna found was then added to a smaller sample
tube, with a label identical to that of the original bucket. The sample tubes
were filled with a solution comprised of 70% ethanol, 30% water. This was done
for all 34 buckets.
Sediment samples were analyzed
using a Mastersizer 2000. A detailed description of the operation of the
Mastersizer 2000 is given in Appendix 1. This document should be referred to
for more information on this program including its operation and methods of data
analysis. The Mastersizer was used to determine grain size analysis of each
sediment sample. The GradiSTAT statistics computer program produced an array of
sediment details (such as grain size) which can also be viewed in Appendix 1.
Sediments classification can be
visualized using a simplified EUNIS sediment triangle. Distributions of organic matter and grain
size are classified into 3 size classes; Gravel (>2mm), Sand (2 mm to 63 ?m)
and Mud (10cm. The upper shore consisted mostly of rocks and shingle.
The site was fucoid dominated and opportunistic green algae was growing.
Arenicola burrows were present on the middle and lower shore.
Site K6 was located within close
proximity of Kinsale town. It was an extremely sheltered area, though the
effects of anthropogenic activity were clear. There was litter amongst the
sediment. The sediment type was dark black sandy mud. The RPD was very shallow (approx. 2mm)
resulting in a strong smell of Hydrogen sulfide. Site K6 was dominated by bladder
wrack, bivalve shells and Arenicola burrows.
Site K8 was dominated by a variety
of fucoid species. The site was also located within close proximity of the town,
resulting in it also being quite sheltered. Litter was scattered across the
area. Similar to site K6, site K8 had a shallow RPD of 2mm. The sediment type
was sandy mud. Pebbles, dead trees were present. Arenicola burrows were
observed throughout the site, along with the presence of sea birds.
Site K10 was a moderately exposed
reef which possessed a variety of sediment types. The upper shore consisted of
unstable cobbles and shingles, whereas the majority of the shore was made up of
mobile sand and muddy sand (closer to the water). The sediment was relatively
clean. Arenicola burrows were observed across the site, along with a large quantity
of dead fucoids.
The sampling of sites K12, K14 and
K16 took place on the second say of the Kinsale field study excursion
(20/1/2017). The weather during the sampling was significantly wet resulting in
a lack of photos for these sites. Sites
K12, K14 and K16 all shared many of the same characteristics with one another.
The following was true for all three sites; The sediment type was sandy mud,
the RPD was shallow (less than 5mm) and Arenicola burrows were present. Sites
K9K14 and K16 were moderately exposed and site K12 was moderately sheltered.
All sited were fringing, fucoid dominated reefs. No additional flora or fauna
were observed on these sites.
In relation to sites K2, K4, K6, K8, K10, K12, K14 and K16, a total
of 1851 invertebrates were extracted and identified. The species found were
either of the Phylum Annelida (within the Class Polychaeta or the Subclass Oligochaeta),
the Phylum Crustacea or the Phylum Mollusca. 55 species of macroinvertebrate
were identified across 8 of the selected sites.
Rissoa lilacina porifera
The most efficient approach for constructing a successful habitat
classification is the catagoising of the habitat in question into simplified group
bases on their similarities/ dissimilarities. In order to produce a successful
habitat classification, the ecosystem in question must be categorized on the
basis of a number defining characteristics. Summarising habitats through the
biotopes in which they possess, aids in the management and conservation of
these ecosystems. The hierarchical classification systems provided by EUNIS and
the MNCR are efficient in that they begin with a very broad biotope (i.e. Level
2 biotopes), and work towards an extremely detailed (i.e. Level 6 biotope)
habitat classification containing various charactacteristics of that habitat
being described (i.e. depth (e.g. littoral), sediment type (e.g. sandy mud),
level of exposure, current speed and characterizing biological communities). Although
the JNCC and the MNCR were habitat classifications originally intended for
Ireland as well as the United Kingdom, Ireland is still classified on a site-by-site
basis. The MNCR system is rarely used due to its incorporation of the Irish Sea
specifically, which encompasses only a fraction of Irish coastline. However, this
does necessarily render the MNCR irrelevant in relation to benthic Irish
macrofauna classification (Breen et al, 2008).
In summary, the sediment type of all 17 sampling stations ranged
from sand to mud. The percentages of sand, mud and gravel can be observed in
Kinsale harbour is defined by the Level 3 JNCC marine habitat
classification code “LS.LSa.Musa”, Polychaete/bivalve- dominated muddy sand
JNCC MNCR technique is both efficient and
accurate for Irish macroinvertebrates.