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Agri View: Gulf Dead Zone

Dan Agri View, Aquaculture

dead zones gulf of mexico
Everett Griner talks about the Gulf of Mexico dead zone in today’s Agri View.

Gulf Dead Zone

Well they are officially known by Hypoxic Zones. We call them Dead Zones. That means nothing grows or lives there. They are in the Gulf of Mexico. And they are caused by runoff water from farm fields into the streams that drain into the Mississippi River and ultimately into the Gulf of Mexico.

Well these dead zones create several problems in the great Gulf of Mexico.

First the commercial fishing industry does not exists within these dead zones. Look at the costs to the commercial fisherman.

And then there is the impact on recreational fishing which translates problems in the tourist business in several coastal states.

Some of these dead zones cover large areas.

Now is anything being done to handle the problem. Yes. But it won’t happen quickly. Nor will it be cheap.

Meanwhile the problem will be there for the entire Gulf Coast.

That’s Agri View for today. I’m Everett Griner.

From: NOAA

What is a dead zone?

“Dead zone” is a more common term for hypoxia, which refers to a reduced level of oxygen in the water.

Hypoxic zones are areas in the ocean of such low oxygen concentration that animal life suffocates and dies, and as a result are sometimes called “dead zones.” One of the largest dead zones forms in the Gulf of Mexico every spring. Each spring as farmers fertilize their lands preparing for crop season, rain washes fertilizer off the land and into streams and rivers. Learn more with this video visualization.

Less oxygen dissolved in the water is often referred to as a “dead zone” because most marine life either dies, or, if they are mobile such as fish, leave the area. Habitats that would normally be teeming with life become, essentially, biological deserts.

Hypoxic zones can occur naturally, but scientists are concerned about the areas created or enhanced by human activity. There are many physical, chemical, and biological factors that combine to create dead zones, but nutrient pollution is the primary cause of those zones created by humans. Excess nutrients that run off land or are piped as wastewater into rivers and coasts can stimulate an overgrowth of algae, which then sinks and decomposes in the water. The decomposition process consumes oxygen and depletes the supply available to healthy marine life.

Dead zones occur in many areas of the country, particularly along the East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Great Lakes, but there is no part of the country or the world that is immune. The second largest dead zone in the world is located in the U.S., in the northern Gulf of Mexico.