Leaving no stone unturned in Europe’s first marine reserve

This study is the conclusion of a two-decade monitoring programme during which researchers surveyed intertidal and shallow subtidal octocoral species at 20 sites at Lough Hyne, the first marine reserve in Europe.

Data resources used via GBIF : 3,856 occurrences records
Alcyonium digitatum

Alcyonium digitatum by Guido Schmitz via iNaturalist. Photo licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

Lough Hyne is fully marine, semi-enclosed, tidal ‘lake’ in the southern-most part of Ireland. The lough, connected to the Atlantic Ocean via tidal rapids, is the first marine reserve in Europe, known for high species and habitat diversity. This study is the conclusion of a two-decade monitoring programme during which researchers surveyed intertidal and shallow subtidal octocoral species at 20 sites by carefully turning rocks, photographing them, and returning them to their original location. The most commonly recorded species was the pink soft coral Alcyonium hibernicum, the abundance of which, however, fluctuated greatly over the period. The red octocoral Alcyonium glomeratum was recorded for the first time inside the lough. A previously recorded species, Alcyonium digitatum was notably absent, but another species, Sarcodictyon catenatum, not observed since the 1930s, was recorded at eight sites, presumably overlooked for eight decades due to its cryptic coloration and small size.

Citations

Trowbridge CD, Little C, Ferrenburg LS, Resk HM, Kachmarik K, Plowman CQ, Stirling P and McAllen R (2016) Shallow subtidal octocorals in an Irish marine reserve. Mar Biodiv. Springer Science + Business Media. Available at doi:10.1007/s12526-016-0450-0.

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