Dinoflagellate blooms, chiefly of Gyrodiniwn aureolum Hulburt, occurred along the south and south-west coasts of Ireland in August and September 1978 and mortalities of shore animals and of rainbow trout Salmo gairdneri held in sea cages were described from Dunmanus Bay (Parker, 1980). Since May 1978 four rocky shore sites in Bantry Bay and one in Dunmanus Bay have been monitored monthly (Myers, Cross & Southgate, 1978, 1979). At each site a permanently marked transect is monitored, limpet shell lengths are measured in marked quadrats at M.H.W.N., M.T.L. and M.L.W.N. and settlement, growth and mortality of barnacle species are studied on vertical rock faces. Discoloration of the water was observed at all five monitoring sites in August 1978 but no effects on the littoral or sub-littoral fauna and flora were detected (Cross & Southgate, 1980).
In 1979 a reddish-brown discoloration of the water in Bantry and Dunmanus Bays was first observed in early September. Surface water samples taken at the regular sampling sites between 5 and 10 September revealed very high densities of Gyrodinium aureolum. Slight discoloration of the water persisted at Eagle Point until October and at Glengariff Castle until early November. During this period mortalities of shore fauna were observed at four of the regular sampling sites. Highest mortalities were observed at Pointabulloge in Dunmanus Bay. When visited on 8 September many Patella spp. on the transect were either dead or, if alive, could easily be removed. An estimated 75% of Gibbula umbilicalis were lying inverted in rock crevices with partially opened opercula which they could close only slowly.