The Marine Protists and Phytoplankton of the Edithburgh Region

John S. Douglas


Introduction and Aims:

As far as I am aware no previous study has been made of the marine Protists, Phytoplankton, Prokaryotes and Archaea of the Edithburgh region of the St Vincent Gulf of South Australia. This study was commenced in December 2014 and aims to produce a digital micrographic record of the marine protists and phytoplankton of this region and various environmental data, observations and conclusions.

2016 – I am now a PhD candidate at the University of Adelaide, revising the taxonomy the protist family Folliculinidae and finding new records and species in Australian waters.

Samples are taken using a number of methods including:

  • Surface water samples
  • Plankton net samples
  • Collection of algal samples
  • Collection of sediment samples
  • Sediment core samples
  • Skin and Scuba Diving collection
  • Plates, slides and coverslips submersed to collect adhering organisms
  • Deeper (50-150m) sampling using various methods.

Samplesare recorded where possible using the following data:

  1. Date
  2. Time
  3. GPS location
  4. Tide
  5. Water Temp
  6. Salinity
  7. Dissolved Oxygen
  8. Sample site photo
  9. Wind
  10. Weather
  11. Sample Method

Samples are collected and imaged as follows:

  1. Stored in clean glass bottles or plastic buckets
  2. Returned to the laboratory as soon as possible
  3. Kept at as close to the ambient collection temperature as possible
  4. Samples were imaged within an hour of collection and then at regular intervals for a few days.

Microscopy: The following microscopes and techniques are used:

  1. Olympus BX 53 Differential Interference Contrast research microscope, also Olympus Darkfield Condenser and Olympus SC100 10.2M colour microscopy camera.
  2. Image capture, recording and processing was carried out using Olympus Dimension Software and Photoshop CS.
  3. Meopta Darkfield microscope with Canon D7 Digital camera.
  4. Stereo-Microscope with digital camera.
  5. Various staining and narcotising techniques.

Taxonomy and Identification:

The taxonomy of Protists is, and has been for over a century in a state of flux. In this study I have chosen to use the Illustrated Guide to the Protozoa, 2nd Ed 2000, Vol I & II. However I have also consulted the following works: Uritiere oder Protozoa A. Kahl 1931,  Protistology K. Hausmann et al 2003, The Ciliated Protozoa, D, H. Lynn 3rd Ed 2010, Protozoology, R, R, Kudo 5th Ed 1977, Identifying Marine Phytoplankton Ed Carmelo R. Thomas 1997, and Prof D.J. Patterson personal communications.

Acknowledgements: The author wishes to acknowledge the following:

First and foremost my wife Jinny, who sacrificed a new kitchen for a research microscope and continues to put up with smelly water in the house. Professor David Patterson for his continuing support, insights and encouragement in my research, Michael Hughes of Olympus Microscopes, The Adelaide Centre for Microscopy, The staff of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, in particular Dr Virginia P. Edgcomb. The South Australian Department of Environment and Natural Resources for research collection permits.

The Study Area location on York Peninsula South Australia:


Study Area satellite image with place names 3

PLATE 1: Study Area


Sultana Beach Collection Area 1

Collection sites 1 & 2: 

Water, sediment and weed samples from these two sites were collected on the 4th of December 2014 at around 11 am during low tide. The site was covered by between 20 and 30cm of water and comprises sand/mud flats with filamentous algae and Gar weed (Heterozosteta nigricaulis). Samples were taken at site 1 of floating filamentous algae and at site 2, a 5x10x10 cm plug of sediment along with H. nigricaulis weed. Both samples were placed in containers and returned to the laboratory and kept in the shade. A number of samples were placed on slides and imaged using the BX53 under DIC and digital images recorded.

The following Protists were imaged:

  1. Euplotes sp
  2. Gymnodidium sp
  3. Epiclintes sp
  4. Ludio sp

NOTES: There were few protists and even fewer diatoms, desmids and prokaryotes in these samples, no sarcodinia were observed. There were a number of small nematemes and cladocerans along with small univalves. Overall the samples appeared to be in a healthy well oxygenated condition with no indication of eutrophy.

Perspective view over Salt Creek Swamp looking East to Adelaide

COLLECTION AREA 3: Coobowie Aquatic Reserve and Salt Creek Swamp.

Coobowie Aquatic Reserve

The Coobowie Aquatic Reserve was declared for the ‘protection of important fish nursery habitats.’ The reserve consists of two areas which are both located to the south and south west respectively of the town: Area 1 which is the area of Salt Creek Bay north of a line from Giles Points to a causeway on the west side of the Bay and Area 2 – a small estuary known as Salt Swamp Creek located to the west side of both Salt Creek Bay and the causeway. In Area 1, the following activities are permitted – fishing from boat or shore using rod and line or handline, collecting bait from the beach, boating, diving and swimming. In Area 2, the following activities are prohibited – fishing or the collection or removal of any marine organisms without a Permit to undertake scientific research (Permit number MR00044-1).

Perspective view over Salt Creek Swamp looking East to Adelaide

PLATE   : Coobowie Aquatic Reserve location looking north east

Salt Creek Aquatic Reserve Map



SATELLITE IMAGES: Copyright Google Earth