Record Dead Zone Projected In Gulf Of Mexico—The Gulf Is America’s Drainage Basin
A record s0-called dead zone has been predicted for the Gulf of Mexico for 2011.
(Above–One small patch of the Gulf of Mexico. Photo copyright 2011 Neil Aquino.)
“The so-called dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico — a region of oxygen-depleted water off the Louisiana and Texas coasts that is harmful to sea life — is predicted to be the largest ever recorded when it develops later this summer, scientists report. The unusually large size of the zone is due to the extreme flooding of the Mississippi River this spring, which equaled or surpassed the historic floods of 1927 and 1937, according to the National Weather Service. The dead zone occurs at the bottom of the Gulf when there is not enough oxygen in the water to support marine life. Also known as hypoxia, it is created by nutrient runoff, mostly from over-application of fertilizer on agricultural fields….What happens to the sea life in that dead zone? Don Scavia, a professor of natural resources at the University of Michigan, says that most anything that can swim away leaves, but that anything that can’t leave, such as the bottom-dwelling bugs that fish and shrimp feed on, will die.”
While the dead zones end each year in September and are in some degree natural occurrences, they are greatly expanded by man-made cause and are symptomatic of our abuse of natural resources. The cause of the ever-larger dead zones is the flow of the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico. It should be recalled though that the Mississippi has many different inland rivers flowing into it, and that what ends up in the Gulf are contaminates from all across the nation.
Everything is connected.
From these facts—
The Gulf of Mexico yields more finfish, shrimp, and shellfish annually than the south and mid-Atlantic, Chesapeake, and New England areas combined.
The coastal population of the five states of the Gulf of Mexico is projected by the Census Bureau to increase from a total of 44.2 million in 1995 to an estimated 61.4 million in 2025, nearly a 40% increase.
The Gulf of Mexico is a source of income for many with fishing and energy exploration. There is also the income that is genertaed from tourism from folks who enjoy the beach.
Regretfully, the Gulf is also a dumping ground of waste and filth and for accidents that spew nasty oil into the water.
I’m certain that additional steps can be taken to protect the Gulf. These steps however will require an active public that demands action. The work of a better nation is up to each of us.
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