Originally published September 14 2008
Ocean Dead Zones Now Top 400
by Jo Hartley
(NaturalNews) An ocean "dead zone" can be compared to a living creature because both will waste away when deprived of nutrients and adequate oxygen. Marine life is becoming nonexistent in certain areas in our oceans and these areas are growing steadily. There were 405 dead zones that were accounted for in 2007. This is a 33% increase over a 1995 survey.
The number of dead zones has essentially doubled every decade since the 1960s. Environmental hypoxia is not a small, insignificant problem that we can ignore. It is a far-reaching global problem that is severely affecting sensitive ecosystems. In fact, the situation has progressed to the point that it is beginning to affect the resources that we are able to find available in the oceans to eat. At risk are crabs, shrimp, and all fish.
The newest dead zones are now being discovered in the Southern Hemisphere. This includes South America, Africa, and parts of Asia.
Dead zones covered an area equal to 95,000 square miles in 2007. The largest dead zone in the U.S. is at the mouth of the Mississippi River. As of this summer, this dead zone covers approximately 8,000 square miles. The largest dead zone on earth is in the Baltic Sea. This dead zone is in a state of environmental hypoxia all year round.
The main cause of the earth's dead zones is pollution-fed algae. This effectively deprives other living marine life trying to live in that area of oxygen. The main culprits for this algae are fertilizer and other farm runoff, sewage, and fossil-fuel burning.
A new dead zone has been reported near the mouth of the Yangtze River in China. While just discovered, it is expected that the area has probably been hypoxic since the 1950s.
While many more dead zones are just being discovered and reported, this is not just because of increased reporting. The number of dead zones is obviously increasing. The situation in industrialized nations with agribusiness leading to an increased amount of nutrients flowing from the land into the estuaries and the oceans is now beginning to happen in developing countries as well.
At one point it was assumed that rivers in South America were too large to develop the same problems as the Mississippi River. Unfortunately, this has not proven to be an accurate assumption. Many of South America's estuaries and coastal areas are now suffering the same dead zone situation as the Mississippi River. Incidentally, the Mississippi River is expected to create the second largest dead zone ever measured in the Gulf of Mexico.
The dead zone increase is a devastating development for estuarine and coastal waters because these areas are among some of the most productive waters on the earth.
About the authorJo Hartley
Wife, Mother of 8, and Grandmother of 2
Jo is a 41 year old home educator who has always gravitated toward a natural approach to life. She enjoys learning as much as possible about just about anything!
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