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A massive summer-kill of the dog-whelk, Nucella lapillus, on the north Cornwall coast in 1995: freak or forerunner?

  • P.E. Gibbs (a1), J.C. Green (a1) and P.L. Pascoe (a1)

Abstract

In the summer of 1995 a massive kill of the dog-whelk, Nucella lapillus, occurred in Bude Bay on the north Cornish coast. High mortality was detectable along 12 km of shoreline. The only other intertidal species affected appeared to be another neogastropod, Ocenebra erinacea. The cause of the kill is unknown but the evidence suggests that it occurred in early July following an extended period of warm, calm weather in June. Possible causes of this event are discussed: algal toxicity may have been responsible since an algal bloom was detected offshore in July in the area. Laboratory experiments exposing gastropods to different species and concentrations of microalgae, designed to test whether N. lapillus is more sensitive than Monodonta lineata and Littorina littorea, gave inconclusive results. No comparable kill has occurred in the Bude area for at least 20 y, but it is suggested that nutrients from a newly-constructed, offshore sewage outfall may now stimulate local algal bloom development during calm weather periods.

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A massive summer-kill of the dog-whelk, Nucella lapillus, on the north Cornwall coast in 1995: freak or forerunner?

  • P.E. Gibbs (a1), J.C. Green (a1) and P.L. Pascoe (a1)

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