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“The Ocean Is Suffocating”: Mysterious “Dead Zone” In Arabian Sea Far Worse Than Expected

Thanks to advances in robotic technology, scientists have been able to study a massive “dead zone” in the Arabian sea – a region with so little oxygen that virtually nothing can live. Scientists began to observe the oxygen-starved zones in the 1970s – which naturally form in the deep sea, but are also found wherever excess nitrogen and phosphorous-based fertilizers run off into coastal waters.

By one account nearly 8-12% of the nitrogen fertilizer applied worldwide is lost from fertilized fields and transported to the sea. In some individual fields, the value can be as high as 50%.

Still more nitrogen is lost during the disposal of animal wastes from modern industrialized production of pork and chickens. Here nitrogen is lost during inadvertent overflow of waste lagoons, and nitrogen is transported to groundwater, which makes its way to stream channels. –blog.nature.org

What they found was stunning; since the 1990’s, the gulf’s dead zone has undergone “a dramatic increase” in both size and severity, and is now made up of entirely of low, or no-oxygen waters also known as suboxic or anoxic conditions respectively.

“As part of this project, we went to the Gulf of Oman, which shares its water masses with the wider Arabian Sea, and found that the oxygen was much lower than we thought from the outdated data,” Queste told Gizmodo. “The region is now anoxic—essentially extending the Arabian Sea OMZ into the marginal regions, much closer to where people live, fish, and depend on the marine environment. Hence the growing concerns.

 

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