Dead in the Water

Sunday, April 9, 2006

For over 20 years, scientists have documented the appearance of a summertime "Dead Zone" that all but obliterates marine life in what is arguably the nation's most important fishery, the Gulf of Mexico. Each year the Dead Zone grows to an area that is roughly the size of New Jersey - ranging from 5,000 to 8,000 square miles. The main culprit: an annual flood of wasted fertilizer from heavily farmed land, running off into rivers and finally into the Gulf, where it feeds the development of massive algae blooms. The algae then die and decompose, robbing the water of oxygen and suffocating all life that cannot leave the area.

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