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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 161:165-172 (1997)  -  doi:10.3354/meps161165

Cyst and radionucleotide evidence for the recent introduction of the toxic dinoflagellate Gymnodinium catenatum into Tasmanian waters

Andrew McMinn1,*,Gustaaf M. Hallegraeff2,Paul Thomson1, Andrew V. Jenkinson3, Henk Heijnis3

1Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies, University of Tasmania, GPO Box 252-77, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia
2Department of Plant Science, University of Tasmania, GPO Box 252-55, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia
3Environmental Radiochemistry Laboratory, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, Private Mailbag 1, Menai, New South Wales 2234, Australia

Cysts of the dinoflagellate Gymnodinium catenatum were present only in the top sections of duplicate marine sediment cores from Deep Bay in southern Tasmania, Australia. 210Pb and 137Cs analyses indicate that the appearance of the cyst of this toxic dinoflagellate (one of the causative organisms of paralytic shellfish poisoning) occurred after 1972. This sediment core evidence and the absence of this species from the phytoplankton of most other neighbouring Australian waters suggest that Gymnodinium catenatum is not endemic to Tasmania but has been introduced recently. This species was first seen in bloom proportions in Tasmania in 1980, with major blooms having occurred since then in 1986, 1991 and 1993. Several lines of evidence suggest that ballast water discharge from cargo vessels originating from Japan and South Korea, or less likely Europe, is the most probable mechanism of introduction.

Gymnodinium catenatum · Sediment cysts · Ballast water introduction · Radiometric dating

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