In light of the proliferation of recent water contaminations in Ireland, this project uses living organisms, Daphnia magna, to create visualisations and sonifications in real-time. These small crustaceans are very sensitive to their environment, and are normally used in laboratory research for analysis of water and soil toxicity.
Daphnia are small, planktonic crustaceans, between 0.2 and 5 mm. Daphnia are members of the order Cladocera, and are one of several small aquatic crustaceans commonly called water fleas because of their saltatory swimming style. They live in various aquatic environments ranging from freshwater lakes to ponds, streams and rivers.
Because Daphnia may be used in certain environments to test the effects of toxins on an ecosystem, this makes Daphnia an indicator species, particularly useful in that area because of its short lifespan and reproductive capabilities.
At Enterprise Ireland's Aquatic Toxicity Laboratory in Shannon, Co.Clare, Daphnia magna are currently used to test toxicity levels in fresh water supplies in Ireland that may or may not be affected by industrial and chemical discharge. The crustaceans are both lively and sensitive to fluctuating toxicity levels in water and acts as an early warning system for freshwater contaminations.