Dead Water, Selfish Species

As you may know I have a bit of a thing for submarines, this is part of my liking for water, both as drink and all its other fabulous myriad uses, (but I’ll leave the water sports joke for now). So… industrial farming has downsides and here, it is killing parts of the ocean-

Coastal oceans are being starved of oxygen at an alarming rate, researchers are reporting, with vast stretches of water along the seafloor depleted of oxygen to the point that they can barely sustain marine life.

The main culprit, scientists say, is nitrogen-rich nutrients from crop fertilizers that spill into coastal waters by way of rivers and streams.

In a study to be published Friday in the journal Science, researchers say the number of marine “dead zones” around the world has doubled about every 10 years since the 1960s. At the same time, the zones along many coastlines have been growing in size and intensity. About 400 coastal areas now have periodically or permanently oxygen-starved bottom waters. Combined, they constitute an area larger than the state of Oregon.

“What’s happened in the last 40, 50 years is that human activity has made the water quality conditions worse,” Robert Diaz, the study’s lead author and a professor at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science at the College of William and Mary, said in an interview. “Dead zones tend to occur in areas that are historically prime fishing grounds.”

While the size of dead zones is small relative to the total surface of the earth covered by oceans, scientists say they represent a significant portion of the ocean waters that support commercial fish and shellfish species.

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