The Gulf of Mexico

What's up? Because the Oxygen is Down

What Causes This Dead Zone?

Dead zones are areas of large bodies of water usually in the ocean but also occasionally in lakes and even rivers that do not have enough oxygen to support marine life (scientific american). The cause of the hypoxic conditions (lacking oxygen) is due to eutrophication, an increase in chemical nutrients in the water. (nat geo). Humans are the main cause of eutrophication or excess chemical nutrients. Farms, factories and many other things cause the excess nutrients. This is why dead zones are normally located near inhabited coast lines.

What Type of Organisms are Involved?

In dead zones such as the one in the Gulf of Mexico, the very small, little to none amount of oxygen greatly impacts the organisms within it. The harsh conditions offered within the dead zone force marine organisms to migrate deeper out into the ocean for their own safety. Some of the greatest impacted organisms include shrimp, fish, and similar marine animals. The Gulf dead zone is a great threat to many fisheries in the area. Scientists testing the fish population anchored in 150 miles west of where the Mississippi empties into the gulf. They dropped a net to the bottom in search of groundfish and it came up empty. The lack of oxygen and these terrible conditions for the organisms within it are what give these lifeless 'dead zones' their name(NOAA).
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Fig 1. Marine organisms dead from dead zone(Wilson).

What are the Ecological Impacts?

Algal blooms that eutrophication causes prevent light from penetrating the oceans surface. They also prevent oxygen from being absorbed by the organisms beneath them. sunlight is necessary for plants and organisms like phytoplankton and algae which make their own nutrients from sunlight, water and carbon dioxide. (nat geo) By taking away sunlight and oxygen from these organisms, algal blooms negatively effect the organisms living under the oceans surface. this causes the number of bottom dwelling organisms to be reduced.

What are the Economic Impacts?

Not only are dead zones bad for the ocean and the organisms within in, but in the long wrong the dead zone will have an enormous impact on the surrounding economy, especially in the Gulf of Mexico dead zone. NOAA estimates that the Gulf dead zone cost the seafood and tourism industries approximately $82 million every year. the threat offered by this dead zone could have a colossal impact on the nation's seafood industry. That area accounts for 40% of our nation's seafood and if we decide not to take charge, serious economical issues could occur. Also, as previously mentioned with the harsh conditions of the zone, fish are forced to move farther out, which requires more time, money and effort for the fisherman to catch them therefore putting more stress in an already stressed industry(nature.org).

Which Geographic Locations are Affected?

The gulf of mexico is an ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent as well as central america. The gulf of mexico is a major source area for the seafood industry. The gulf supplies 72% of the harvested shrimp in the US as well as 66% of harvested oysters ( http://serc.carleton.edu/). Dead zones in the gulf of mexico are causing these numbers to drop. The dead zones are caused in the gulf of mexico due to the runoff of excess chemical nutrients coming from the Mississippi river.
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What can be Done to Solve the Issue?

Preventing the nutrients from rivers from draining into the Gulf is no easy task, there is no way to just completely stop it, but there a few possible solutions and things we can do to reduce the size of the dead zone and shape the future of it. A good first step would be decreasing the use of fertilizers and using them at appropriate times so rivers such as the Mississippi are not draining as much nutrients into the gulf. Also, controlling animal waste and closer monitoring of septic systems and sewage facilities to reduce the release of nutrients to surface and groundwater. Careful procedures such as limiting the discharge of pollution, chemicals and excess nutrients that pour into the Gulf will go a long way(Bruckner).

Works Cited

"Fisheries in the Dead Zone." NOAA. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Feb. 2016. <http://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/stories/2013/07/7_26_13mapping_the_dead_zone.html>.

"Gulf of Mexico." The Nature Conservancy. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Feb. 2016. <http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/areas/gulfofmexico/explore/gulf-of-mexico-dead-zone.xml>.

"The Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone." Microbial Life. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Feb. 2016. <http://serc.carleton.edu/microbelife/topics/deadzone/index.html>.

"The Gulf of Mexico 'Dead Zone.'" SeaWeb. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Feb. 2016. <http://www.seaweb.org/resources/briefings/dead_zone.php>.

"Restoring Life to the Dead Zone: Addressing Gulf Hypoxia, a National Problem." National Wetlands Research Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Feb. 2016. <http://www.nwrc.usgs.gov/factshts/016-00/016-00.htm>.

"This Year’s Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone Could Be the Biggest on Record." Time. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Feb. 2016. <http://science.time.com/2013/06/19/this-years-gulf-of-mexico-dead-zone-could-be-the-biggest-on-record/>.

"2015 Golf of Mexico dead zone 'above average.'" NOAA. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Feb. 2016. <.http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2015/080415-gulf-of-mexico-dead-zone-above-average.html>.

"Dead Zones - Learn about - Teach Ocean Science." Dead Zones - Learn about - Teach Ocean Science. Web. 08 Feb. 2016.

"What Causes Ocean "Dead Zones"?" Scientific American. Web. 08 Feb. 2016.


"Dead Zone." National Geographic Education. 2011. Web. 08 Feb. 2016.


. "What Is a Dead Zone?" What Is a Dead Zone? Web. 08 Feb. 2016.


"Our Oceans Are Full of Dead Zones. Climate Change Makes Them...deader." OnEarth. 2014. Web. 08 Feb. 2016.