MEPS 210:139-148 (2001)  -  doi:10.3354/meps210139

Effect of a ballast water treatment system on survivorship of natural populations of marine plankton

T. F. Sutherland1,*, C. D. Levings1, C. C. Elliott1, W. W. Hesse2

1Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Science Branch, West Vancouver Laboratory, 4160 Marine Drive, West Vancouver, British Columbia V7V 1N6, Canada
2Velox Technology Inc., Ste 910, 602 12th Ave SW, Calgary, Alberta T2J 1R3, Canada

ABSTRACT: A field experiment was carried out to determine the influence of a 2-stage ballast water treatment system on the survivorship of natural populations of plankton. This Integrated Cyclone-UV Treatment System (ITS) was designed and constructed by Velox Technology Inc. and consisted of 2 treatment phases: (1) the cyclonic pre-treatment phase, (2) the ultraviolet-radiation phase (UV-C). The ITS was deployed on the Vancouver Port Authority dock, British Columbia on April 11, 1999. Seawater samples were collected from ports located along the treatment stages of the ITS and analyzed for plankton survivorship. The sampling stages were defined as Pre-Intake, Pre-Cyclone, Post-Cyclone, Post-Solids, and Post-UV-on and Post-UV-off. The survivorship of planktonic invertebrates was assessed immediately through direct observations, while phytoplankton survivorship was assessed through incubation grow-out experiments. With respect to zooplankton, live copepods were observed in the Pre-Intake and Pre-Cyclone samples, while dead or moribund copepods were observed in samples collected from both early and late stages of the ITS. Statistical comparisons were carried out on phytoplankton growth parameters such as starting concentration, lag phase, growth rate, and relative abundance generated during the incubation experiment. Chaetoceros gracile appeared to be the most sensitive organism to the ITS as it exhibited a 4 d lag phase prior to growth. The starting concentration, growth rate, and relative abundance of this species observed in the Post UV-on samples were significantly lower than those observed in the Pre-Intake samples (control). In addition, the auxospores formed by Skeletonema costatum during the incubation experiment were observed in all treatment samples with the exception of those exposed to the Post-UV-on stage of the ITS. A second phytoplankton incubation experiment was carried out using the original samples following a 3 mo storage period in dark, cold conditions (4°C). The results of this experiment revealed that the phytoplankton population in the UV-treated samples was not capable of growth, while those in the remaining treatments exhibited growth. Thus, future studies assessing the effect of the ITS on phytoplankton survivorship should incorporate increases in the intensity and exposure period of ultraviolet radiation followed by a dark, cold-storage period, thereby reducing the chance of photorepair.

KEY WORDS: Ballast water · Treatment · Cyclonic pre-treatment · Ultraviolet radiation · Plankton · Exotic species

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