The benthos of Lough Hyne (Europe’s first marine reserve) in SW Ireland has changed dramatically in the past decade with declining invertebrate communities and proliferating ephemeral macroalgae. In summer 2011 and 2012, we measured dissolved oxygen (DO) levels on shallow subtidal rocky shores of the lough and recorded both benthic hypoxia (<2 mg O2 L−1) and hyperoxia (∼10–16 mg O2 L−1). In late summer 2013, we systematically characterized the spatial and temporal patterns of DO in the lough seawater. Daytime DO levels were hyperoxic either at or near the rocky shore, declined with increased distance for the first 5 m offshore, then stabilized at normoxic levels (∼8 mg O2 L−1). DO levels above and below rocks were variable and often showed large differences (max. difference of 15.6 mg O2 L−1), particularly at rocky shore sites with low current flow. At night, the DO in shallow water declined, becoming hypoxic to anoxic during calm weather. These extreme oxygen fluctuations (i) are amongst the first records to report severe conditions within Irish coastal waters and (ii) could contribute to the known recent decline in benthic invertebrate diversity within the marine reserve.