Skip to main content

Hydrobiological responses of the North Eastern Arabian Sea during late winter and early spring inter-monsoons and the repercussions on open ocean blooms

  • K. B. Padmakumar (a1), Lathika Cicily Thomas (a1) (a2), K. G. Vimalkumar (a1), C. R. Asha Devi (a1), T. P. Maneesh (a1), Anilkumar Vijayan (a1), G. V. M. Gupta (a1) and M. Sudhakar (a1)...

Winter cooling and persistent mixing for more than a quarter of year (November to early March) along the North Eastern Arabian Sea (NEAS) results in nutrient enrichment of the euphotic column thereby triggering biological production. Hydrographic characteristics of NEAS during Late Winter Monsoon (LWM) and Early Spring Inter Monsoon (ESIM) and the influence on biological production are overviewed here. Winter convective mixing signatures were evident during LWM with low SST (24°C), high SSS (36.4), deep mixed layers (>100 m) and increased surface nitrate (~1 µM). Open ocean waters observed high chlorophyll a (1–2 mg m−3) and microphytoplankton abundance (1.2–1.5 × 104 cells l−1). Diatoms and green Noctiluca scintillans were the major microphytoplankton identified. ESIM observed gradual stabilization of water column with curtailment of winter signatures and strengthening of Noctiluca scintillans blooms. Mesozooplankton biomass was higher during LWM and decreased towards ESIM with intensification of Noctiluca blooms. However during ESIM, abundance of gelatinous zooplankton occurred in the bloom region. Inter-annual variations were observed in the biological responses along with the hydrographic changes. Thus the convective process during winter monsoon and stabilization of the water column during ESIM plays a significant role in the production pattern of NEAS.

Corresponding author
Correspondence should be addressed to: K. B. Padmakumar, Centre for Marine Living Resources and Ecology, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Kochi-37, Kerala, India email:
Hide All
Allen, W.E. and Cupp, E.F. (1935) Plankton diatoms of the Java Seas. Ann Jord Bot Buitenz 44, 101174.
Azam, F. (1998) Microbial control of oceanic carbon flux: the plot thickens. Science 280, 694696.
Bange, H.W., Naqvi, S.W.A. and Codispoti, L.A. (2005) The nitrogen cycle in the Arabian Sea. Progress in Oceanography 65, 145168.
Banse, K. (1984) Overview of the hydrography and associated biological phenomena in the Arabian Sea off Pakistan. In Haq, B.U. and Milliman, J.D. (eds) Marine geology and oceanography of the Arabian Sea and coastal Pakistan. New York, NY: Van Nostrand Reinhold, pp. 271303.
Banse, K. (1987) Seasonality of phytoplankton chlorophyll in the central and northern Arabian Sea. Deep-Sea Research 34, 713723.
Banse, K. (1988) Estimates of average phytoplankton division rates in the open ocean Arabian Sea. Indian Journal of Marine Science 17, 3136.
Banse, K. and McClain, C.R. (1986) Winter blooms of phytoplankton in the Arabian Sea as observed by the Coastal Zone Color Scanner. Marine Ecology Progress Series 34, 201211.
Barber, R.T., Marra, J., Bidigare, R.C., Codispoti, L.A., Halpern, D., Johnson, Z., Latasa, M., Goericke, R. and Smith, S.L. (2001) Primary productivity and its regulation in the Arabian Sea during 1995. Deep-Sea Research II 48, 11271172.
Bhattathiri, P.M.A., Pant, A., Sawant, S., Gauns, M., Matondkar, S.G.P. and Mohanraju, R. (1996) Phytoplankton production and chlorophyll distribution in the eastern and central Arabian Sea in 1994–1995. Current Science 71, 857862.
Dwivedi, R.M., Raman, M., Parab, S., Matondkar, S.G.P. and Nayak, S. (2006) Influence of northeasterly trade winds on intensity of winter bloom in the Northern Arabian Sea. Current Science 90, 13971406.
Fairall, C.W., Bradley, E.F., Godfrey, S., Wick, G.A., Edson, B. and Young, G.S. (1996) Cool skin and warm layer effects on sea surface temperature. Journal of Geophysical Research 101, 12951308.
Garrison, D.L., Gowing, M.M., Hughes, M.P., Campbell, L., Caron, D.A., Dennett, M.R., Shalapyonok, A., Olson, R.J., Landry, M.R., Brown, S.L., Liu, H., Azam, F., Steward, G.F., Ducklow, H.W. and Smith, D.C. (2000) Microbial food web structure in the Arabian Sea: a US JGOFS study. Deep-Sea Research 47, 13871422.
Gomes, H.R., Goes, J.I., Matondkar, S.G.P., Buskey, E.J., Basu, S., Parab, S. and Thoppil, P. (2014) Massive outbreaks of Noctiluca scintillans blooms in the Arabian Sea due to spread of hypoxia. Nature Communications 5,
Gomes, H.R., Goes, J.I., Matondkar, S.G.P., Parab, S.G., Al-Azri, A. and Thoppil, P.G. (2008) Blooms of Noctiluca miliaris in the Arabian Sea- An in situ and satellite study. Deep Sea Research I 55, 751765.
Gomes, H.R., Matondkar, S.G.P., Parab, S.G., Goes, J.I., Pednekar, S., Al-Azri, A. and Thoppil, P.G. (2009) Unusual blooms of the green Noctiluca miliaris (Dinophyceae) in the Arabian Sea during the winter monsoon. In Wiggert, D., Hood, R.R., Naqvi, S.W.A., Smith, S.L. and Brink, K.H. (eds) Indian ocean: biogeochemical processes and ecological variability. AGU Book Series, pp. 347363.
Goswami, S.C. (2004) Zooplankton methodology, collection and identification – a field manual. Dona Paula, Goa: National Institute of Oceanography, 26 pp.
Jyothibabu, R., Madhu, N.V., Habeebrehman, H., Jayalakshmy, K.V., Nair, K.K.C. and Achuthankutty, C.T. (2010) Re-evaluation of “paradox of mesozooplankton” in the eastern Arabian Sea based on ship and satellite observations. Journal of Marine Systems 81, 235251.
Karlson, B., Cusack, C. and Bresnan, E. (2010) Microscopic and molecular methods for quantitative phytoplankton analysis. IOC Manuals and Guides, no. 55 (IOC/2010/MG/55). Paris: UNESCO.
Latasa, M. and Bidigare, R.R. (1998) A comparison of phytoplankton populations of the Arabian Sea during the Spring Intermonsoon and Southwest Monsoon of 1995 as described by HPLC- analysed pigments. Deep Sea Research II 45, 21332170.
Madhu, N.V., Jyothibabu, R., Maheswaran, P.A., Jayaraj, K.A. and Achuthankutty, C.T. (2012) Enhanced chlorophyll a and primary production in the northern Arabian Sea during the spring intermonsoon due to green Noctiluca (N. scintillans) bloom. Marine Biology Research 8, 182188.
Madhupratap, M., Gauns, M., Ramaiah, N., Prasannakumar, S., Muraleedharan, P.M., De Sousa, S.N., Sardessai, S. and Muraleedharan, U. (2003) Biogeochemistry of the Bay of Bengal: physical, chemical and primary productivity characteristics of the central and western Bay of Bengal during summer monsoon 2001. Deep Sea Research 50, 881896.
Madhupratap, M., Gopalakrishnan, T.C., Haridas, P., Nair, K.K.C., Aravindakshan, P.N., Padmavati, G. and Shiney, P. (1996a) Lack of seasonal and geographic variation in mesozooplankton biomass in the Arabian Sea and its structure in the mixed layer. Current Science 71, 863868.
Madhupratap, M., Prasannakumar, S., Bhattathiri, P.M.A., Kumar, M.D., Raghukumar, S., Nair, K.K.C. and Ramaiah, N. (1996b) Mechanism of the biological response to winter cooling in the northeastern Arabian Sea. Nature 384, 549552.
Matondkar, S.G.P., Bhat, S.R., Dwivedi, R.M. and Nayak, S.R. (2004) Indian satellite IRS-P4 (OCEANSAT), Monitoring algal blooms in the Arabian Sea. Harmful Algae News 26, 45.
McCreary, J.P., Kohler, K.E., Hood, R.R. and Olson, D.B. (1996) A four component ecosystem model of biological activity in the Arabian Sea. Progress in Oceanography 37, 193240.
Padmakumar, K.B., SreeRenjima, G., Fanimol, C.L., Menon, N.R. and Sanjeevan, V.N. (2010) Preponderance of heterotrophic Noctiluca scintillans during a multi-species diatom bloom along the southwest coast of India. International Journal of Oceans and Oceanography 4, 5563.
Parsons, T.R., Maita, Y. and Lalli, C.M. (1984) A manual of chemical and biological methods for seawater analysis. New York, NY: Pergamon Press.
Prasannakumar, S. and Prasad, T.G. (1999) Formation and spreading of Arabian Sea high salinity water mass. Journal of Geophysical Research 104, 14551464.
Prasannakumar, S., Ramaiah, N., Gauns, M., Sarma, V.V.S.S., Muraleedharan, P.M., Raghukumar, S., DileepKumar, M. and Madhupratap, M. (2001) Physical forcing of biological productivity in the Northern Arabian Sea during the Northeast Monsoon. Deep Sea Research 48, 11151126.
Sambrotto, R. (2001) Nitrogen production in the northern Arabian Sea during the Spring Intermonsoon and Summer Monsoon seasons. Deep-Sea Research II 48, 11731198.
Sarangi, R.K. (2012) Observation of oceanic eddy in the Northeastern Arabian Sea using multisensory remote sensing data. International Journal of Oceanography 2012, Article 531982. doi: 10.1155/2012/531982.
Sarangi, R.K., Chauhan, P. and Nayak, S.R. (2005) Inter-annual variability of phytoplankton blooms in the northern Arabian Sea during winter monsoon period (February–March) using IRS-P4 OCM data. Indian Journal of Marine Sciences 34, 163173.
Sawant, S. and Madhupratap, M. (1996) Seasonality and composition of phytoplankton in the Arabian Sea. Current Science 17, 869873.
Shetye, S.R., Gouveia, A.D., Shenoi, S.C., Shankar, D., Vinayachandran, P.N., Sundar, D., Michael, G.S. and Nampoothiri, G. (1996) Hydrography and circulation in the western Bay of Bengal during the Northeast monsoon. Journal of Geophysical Research 101, 1401114025.
Subrahmanyan, R. (1959a) Studies on the phytoplankton of the west coast of India. Part I. Quantitative and qualitative fluctuation of total phytoplankton crop, the zooplankton crop and their interrelationship with remarks on the magnitude of the standing crop and production of matter and their relationship to fish landings. Proceedings of Indian Academy of Sciences 50, 113187.
Subrahmanyan, R. (1959b) Phytoplankton on the waters of west coast of India and its bearing on fisheries. Proceedings of Symposium on Algology 292301.
Tomas, C.R. (1997) Identifying marine diatoms and dinoflagellates. New York, NY: Academic Press.
UNESCO (1994) Protocols for the Joint Global Ocean Flux Studies (JGOFS), core measurements, IOC manuals and guides, 29. Paris: UNESCO.
Wiggert, J.D., Hodd, R.R., Banse, K. and Kindle, J.C. (2005) Monsoon driven biogeochemical processes in the Arabian Sea. Progress in Oceanography 65, 176213.
Wiggert, J.D., Jones, B.H., Dickey, T.D., Weller, R.A., Brink, K.H., Marra, J. and Codispoti, L. A. (2000) The Northeast Monsoon's impact on mixing, phytoplankton biomass and nutrient cycling in the Arabian Sea. Deep-Sea Research II 47, 13531385.
Wiggert, J.D., Murtugudde, R.G. and McClain, C.R. (2002) Processes controlling interannual variations in wintertime (Northeast Monsoon) primary productivity in the central Arabian Sea. Deep Sea Research II 49, 23192343.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
  • ISSN: 0025-3154
  • EISSN: 1469-7769
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-marine-biological-association-of-the-united-kingdom
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed