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Investigation of Dissolved Nutrients in Tropical Coastal Waters in Mauritius

Author(s): BissemburZ, Balgobin J, Anjore, RamessurRT, Boodhoo K, et al.

Abstract

This study investigated the concentration ratios of dissolved nitrate: phosphate in tropical coastal waters in Mauritius (1,850 km2, 20°S and 57°E, Western Indian ocean) during winter 2008 and summer 2009 arising from both surface and submarine groundwater sources. Dissolved nutrients in lagoon waters were statistically compared between winter and summer periods and between urban and rural estuaries at Grand River North West (GRNW), Albion and Flic en Flac. A low ratio of 7 was computed for dissolved [nitrate]: [phosphate] for the Flic en Flac lagoon situated in a rural area, lying in the range from 2 to 15 as usually found for coastal waters globally suggesting denitrification whereas the ratio of dissolved [nitrate]: [phosphate] in lagoon waters computed for GRNW and Albion situated in urban areas were lower and less than 2 and may be attributed to possible high phosphate input. The sources of dissolved phosphate may come from the run-off of phosphate fertilizers from sugar cane plantations and submarine groundwater discharges. This high concentration of dissolved phosphate in the freshwater system can be harmful as it can cause an algal bloom. A high concentration of dissolved phosphate was recorded in September during a flood. The mean values for dissolved nitrate were 11.8 ± 11.0 μmol/L during winter and 11.7 ± 5.0 μmol/L during summer at Flic en Flac. Dissolved nitrate levels were observed to be abnormally high which probably were due to the lagoon water being mixed with the submarine groundwater discharge in the lagoon. In addition, a strong positive correlation was observed between phosphate and nitrate (R2 = 0.74) during the period of winter 2009 to summer 2010 for all the stations at Flic en Flac.

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