Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Marine Institute Banner Advert

Subterranean Estuaries Help Filter Out Pollutants, New Study Involving Trinity College Dublin Finds

24th June 2021
 Subterranean estuaries may be invisible to the naked eye, but may be very important in the ecology of coasts
Subterranean estuaries may be invisible to the naked eye, but may be very important in the ecology of coastal systems Credit: NUI Galway

“Subterranean estuaries” may be critical in managing sustainable fishing and aquaculture, according to new research.

Subterranean estuaries may be invisible to the naked eye, but may be very important in the ecology of coastal systems, the research by Trinity College Dublin and the Marine Research Institute of the Spanish Research Council in Vigo, Galicia, Spain has found.

They may also filter pollutants – some of which have been slowly travelling to sea for decades having leached from agricultural soils.

The researchers uncovered subterranean estuaries in the Ria de Vigo in Galicia -one of the most productive coastal ecosystems in Europe and leader in bivalve production for human consumption.

They assessed their importance to the coastal environment, and estimated that almost 25% of the continental freshwater discharged to the Ria de Vigo comes from these subterranean sources.

“Bivalve aquaculture is a strategic, expanding sector in Irish sustainable development and features highly in the national plans to diversify food production”, Carlos Rocha, professor in environmental change at Trinity College, Dublin’s school of natural sciences said.

“While our work was conducted in the Ria de Vigo, this area was carefully selected because of its capability to support aquaculture and its biogeographic similarity to parts of the Irish coastline,” Prof Rocha said.

“These subterranean estuaries have a high capability to filter out pollutants, like fertilisers, from freshwater. Given the extent to which they supply large ecosystems with incoming freshwater, they have a much more important role to play than many would have believed,” he added.

NUI Galway has previously conducted research on subterranean streams in the limestone-rich Burren area of Co Clare and their influence on Galway Bay.

The new research has just been published in open access in Frontiers in Marine Science (https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2021.626813) and Limnology and Oceanography (https://doi.org/10.1002/lno.11733).

Published in Marine Science
Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

Email The Author

Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading Afloat.ie than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open.

Afloat.ie is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.

 

At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2021

vdlr21 sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton
 

Please show your support for Afloat by donating