“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 J. 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.
Low oxygen levels wipe out fish and crustaceans from bottom waters in places like the Gulf of Mexico, the Chesapeake Bay and the Baltic Sea on a seasonal basis, leaving little life other than microbes to survive. In recent years, dead zones have grown in places like coastal China and the Kattegat Sea, where the Norway lobster fishery collapsed. They have also cropped up unexpectedly in pockets off the coast of South Carolina and the Pacific Northwest.
This summer, the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico covers a swath of ocean nearly the size of Massachusetts. It has more than doubled in size in the last 20 years.”
Addendum: The Times Online reports the story with this apocalyptic title:
Fertilisers kill all ocean life in spread of ‘dead zones’
OH NOEZ! ME WANTZ MAH FISS N CHIPZ!!