Larval Dispersal in the Irish Sea

This app allows visualisation of the spread of marine invertebrates through larval dispersal from numerous locations around the Irish Sea. It is a prototype intended to help in the management of marine invasive non native species; new species arriving through human transport and establishing at coastal sites will potentially spread through natural means. This app may allow early warning and a rapid response through providing understanding of natural spread.

The app has been developed within Ecostructure, an interdisciplinary project which aims to raise awareness of, and provide guidance to, developers and regulators on the potential for ecologically sensitive engineering (eco-engineering) solutions for coastal infrastructure. Ecostructure is a collaboration between five leading research-intensive universities in Wales and Ireland: Aberystwyth University (Project Lead), Bangor University, Swansea University, University College Cork and University College Dublin. Further information on the app design is available under the ‘About’ tab.

App developed by:

Peter Robins, Jonathan Demmer, Simon Neill, Alice Goward Brown, Stuart Jenkins and Sophie Ward

School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University

Code, UI/UX and data wrangling by:

Keaton Wilson and Noah Giebink

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The app simulates the potential spread of larvae from coastal natural habitats and man-made structures. The larvae (‘particles’) simulated within this app are transported from coastal ‘spawning’ locations within the Irish Sea by simulated (modelled) ocean currents. These simulations are based on a sophisticated hydrodynamic model which predicts flows in three-dimensions, driven by the tide, wind and heat inputs. The model uses data from 2014 and encompasses the larval spawning season from April to October.

The simulated ocean currents are coupled with a Particle Tracking Model which ‘releases’ virtual particles (representing larvae) from discrete locations at different times throughout the year. These particles are then dispersed through the Irish Sea waters according to the local simulated ocean currents. A range of release (spawning) periods can be chosen to incorporate changes in seasonal heat-driven flows. In addition, larvae particles can be simulated in two scenarios: i) positioned in surface waters, and ii) positioned in mid-waters. This represents two plausible larval behavioural patterns, with surface-only larvae submitted to tidal-, heat- and wind-driven currents, whereas larvae in mid-waters are submitted to tidal- and heat-driven currents.