Deadly plankton off Atlantic coast closely monitored


Angling Notes/Derek Evans: Red tide seawater discoloration and mortalities among lugworms, pacific oysters, cockles and marine organisms have been reported along the west and northwest coast of Ireland.

Samples analysed by the Marine Institute this week have identified an algae bloom of a microscopic plankton species called Karenia mikimotoi.

While this organism has no adverse implications for human health, previous blooms have resulted in deaths among flatfish such as plaice and flounder, and lugworms and finfish. It is thought deaths are caused by a reaction to mild toxins produced by the plankton, and also by low oxygen levels that occur when the bloom begins to decay.

Karenia mikimotoi was first identified along the east coast of the US in 1957 and first recorded in Europe in 1966 in Norwegian coastal waters. Its first appearance in Irish coastal waters occurred in 1976 when it bloomed extensively on the southeast coast. Subsequent blooms were recorded each year between 1978 and 1982 and again between 1990 and 1995.

Algal blooms are a naturally occurring phenomenon and not uncommon in Irish coastal waters at this time of year. The bloom typically starts in offshore waters and is transported into the coastal zone by ocean currents. Developments of the current red tide are under continuous surveillance and updated daily on the Institute's website at

In addition to routine monitoring, the Institute is carrying out research with NUI Galway to better understand the movement of harmful algal blooms. The three-year project, funded by the National Development Plan, has already made progress and will test prediction methods later this year. For details, contact

  • XM Yachting has identified that a limited quantity of faulty adult-size XM Quickfit 150N inflatable lifejackets may be in circulation since October 2004. These lifejackets may be missing an inflation mechanism and gas bottle.

As a precaution, check the area under the velcro fixed outer cover on the left hand side of the jacket. If you find a gas bottle, your lifejacket is in perfect working order. If not, do not use the lifejacket and contact XM Yachting immediately at +44 (0) 870 751 4666 or e-mail

  • With its peninsula stretching out into the Irish Sea, The Hook in Co Wexford offers some of the finest boat angling in Ireland. This is a relatively unexplored area in comparison to some other ports, yet up to 20 varieties of fish have been taken from within sight of the famous Hook lighthouse.

This abundance was reinforced last weekend following the visit by 20 anglers from Howth SAC for two days' boat angling. On the first day, 420 fish were recorded, mostly codling of about 1kg, but some reaching 3kg. It was a similar story on the second day, with a sprinkling of pollock, ling, pouting, whiting and wrasse, boated by the enthusiastic anglers. Only fish for the table were retained.

Two colourful cuckoo wrasse (Labrus mixtus) added to the occasion, with one just outside the Irish specimen weight at 0.45kg, caught by Cecil Barron, and the second, a definite Irish specimen of 0.58kg, by Jason Perry.

Fishing in comfort was provided by two of the most prolific charter boats in the Irish fleet, the Orinico and Wild Swan, owned by Walter and Jim Foley respectively. These were hired for the occasion from Ballyhack, Co Wexford. The two 40-foot vessels have toilets, showers, galleys, bunks and ample deck space, and both are fully compliant with Department of Marine safety standards.

The Naomh Seosamh Hotel in Fethard-on-Sea provided accommodation throughout the weekend, with excellent food, reasonable rates, and cold fish storage for the 35-strong angling entourage. Contact Walter at 051-389242 (Orinico); Jim at 051-389225 (Wild Swan) and Naomh Seosamh Hotel at 051-397129.

  • On the salmon and sea trout front, Colin Folan of Lough Inagh Lodge reported that a large run of finnock entered the system in the past few days. "It is 18 years since I have seen so many," he said. Folan himself caught the first fish of the season last Sunday from the Derryclare Butts on a collie dog tube. The fish weighed 5kg. According to Folan, "a good year for sea trout is expected on Lough Inagh, however, we live in hope for the salmon, numbers entering the system are very poor." Contact 095-34706.
  • Bright sunshine curtailed fishing on the Galway Weir compared to the previous week, although anglers still managed to land 103 salmon, including 65 on the fly. Water levels are perfect for flyfishing at present. UK husband-and-wife team Jonathan and Sheena Forest took six, including a 2.7kg fish on the fly. Former fishery manager Dr Paddy Gargan was probably the proudest father when seven-year-old son Cian landed his first ever salmon, a fine 3kg grilse.
  • While the main grilse run is still awaited, the Moy produced 518 salmon last week, with the biggest catch taken on the Moy Fishery, at Ballina, the Gannons, Foxford Fishery, Rinnaney and Cloongee. Low water favoured the Moy Fishery, with 36 taken from the Ridge Pool.

On the Moy Estuary, about 70 sea trout were reported, including 15 from the Point Beat and 25 from the Black Banks/Ice House area. Further down the estuary, fishing was disrupted by strong northerly winds.

  • Trout angling remained quiet, with fish more occupied feeding on perch fry. That said, sedge hatches are beginning to appear in late evenings.