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World's Oceans Asphyxiated with Dead Zones

by Ellen Hardy
15 September 2008, at 1:00am

GLOBE - A new study has been published which reveals the extent of the world's "dead zones", which have doubled in size every decade since 1960.

According to the Edmonton Journal, coastal waters with once rich marine life, Chesapeake Bay, the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and off Peru, Chile and Namibia, are rapidly losing species. The report, by two U.S. scientists, have counted 405 asphyxiating dead zones in our oceans.

The cause, predictably, is pollution. The culprits are fertilizer runoff in estuaries, sewage, global warming, overfishing and industrial waste.

Millions of tonnes of "nutrient pollution", chemical fertilizer that adds phosphates and nitrogen to the water, feed algae blooms, the news agency reports.

Some zones are vast, the Baltic Sea's 70,000-square-kilometre aquatic graveyard is the largest. The Gulf of Mexico harbours North America's giant dead zone: A 22,000-square-km sea morgue, or something roughly the size of New Jersey.

Other dead zones have been discovered off California, in Lake Erie, around the Florida Keys, in North and South Carolina creeks and in Washington's Puget Sound. Together, they have turned 246,048 square kilometres of the seas, an area the equivalent of all five of the Great Lakes, into marine wastelands.

Ellen Hardy