(NaturalNews) Open-ocean microalgae is responsible for consuming about one fifth of all carbon dioxide taken up by global plant-life, and the oxygen they produce through photosynthesis is essential for the survival of life on Earth. More ocean algae means that more carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere to be replaced by more oxygen. When these algae blooms die and sink to the ocean floor, they move large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to the oceans, which also helps control Earth`s climate. Upsets in the balance of ocean algae can be detrimental to marine life as well as human life. Increasing dead zones in the oceans affect not only local businesses who depend on abundant marine life such as fish, shrimp and the like, but also the very air we breathe! How will the growing number of dead zones in the world`s oceans affect ocean algae and the oxygen levels in the air?
Ocean dead zones are created by a number of factors, both naturally occurring and human interference. At the very minimum, sea life requires 30% dissolved oxygen in the water and thrives at 80% or higher. When the amount of dissolved oxygen in the ocean decreases to below 30% the water becomes hypoxic, and below 1% it becomes anoxic. The World Resources Institute`s compiled data states that there are currently 375 dead zones in the world`s oceans. Although excessive algae blooms, due in part to an increase in the basic chemical nutrients in the water, cause oxygen depletion in the oceans, the recent increase in dead zones can be attributed to human alterations and pollution.
The Mississippi River deposits Midwest agricultural pollution into the northern Gulf of Mexico, creating a dead zone which spans over 8500 square miles. As if that isn`t enough, BP`s ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico is creating oxygen depleted dead zones, with methane concentrations as high as 100,000 times normal levels, along with high levels of crude oil and toxic chemical dispersants, killing marine life and oxygen-producing algae. Scientists point out that the oil slick, as well as the chemical dispersants, will kill off the phytoplankton and algal species for which oil is a toxin and will block the sunlight needed for all photosynthesizing algae. What we are looking at is a prospective dead zone of a 200 mile radius from the Deepwater Horizon disaster datum in the Gulf. That`s equivalent to over 125,663 square miles. If the oil contamination of our oceans continue, such as what we`re seeing in areas such as the Gulf of Mexico and the oil rich Niger Delta, the increasing dead zones could threaten Earth`s ability to sustain human life as oxygen-producing ocean algae, a huge contributor to our global oxygen supply, is killed off.
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