Surface seawater samples were collected over a period of 27 months at a shallow water station in Dona Paula bay from 1998–2000. The samples were analyzed to assess the seasonal variations, inter-annual variability and the contributions of:
A distinct inter-annual variability was observed with an increase in the bacterial abundance, chlorophylla (Chl a), TEP and Sal-PCHO and their greater contribution to particulate organic carbon during May 1998–1999 than in June 1999–July 2000. Overall, there was no statistically significant correlation of TEP with phytoplankton biomass (Chl a), Sal-PCHO, CPCHO and hydrodynamic conditions. A weak inverse correlation was observed between TEP and TBA (r = −0.397;p < 0.05) but the role of TEP as a C-source for bacteria was not evident. Both Sal-PCHO and CPCHO appeared to be two distinct forms of carbohydrates. Unlike CPCHO, Sal-PCHO concentrations showed a positive trend with Chla and significant linear correlation with bacterial abundance (r = 0.44,p < 0.007,n = 48), indicating that Sal-PCHO as carbon source might have supported bacterioplankton abundance. The mean %TEP-C contribution to the annual average organic carbon for 1998–2000 was 6.9% ± 5.8%, next only to phytoplankton-C (33.1 ± 22.1%) and greater than bacterial-C (4.6% ± 4.6%) or carbohydrate-C (< 3.8%). Despite its greater contribution to the organic carbon pool, the contribution of TEP-C to the benthic carbon demand and its fate in the study area could not be ascertained in this study.