No One Cares Until it’s too Late

No One Cares Until it's too Late

The Gulf of Mexico is an ocean basin and marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean largely surrounded by the North American continent, and the Chesapeake Bay is an estuary in the U.S. states of Maryland and Virginia. Looking at their locations, what could these two bodies of water possibly have in common? Both of these have dead zone areas. However, this isn’t something to brag about, but rather it’s a dangerous matter. These dead zones are increasing and can become a serious issue. 

A dead zone occurs at the bottom of a body of water where the oxygen levels are lacking to support marine life. Let’s look a little deeper into the one dead zone found in the Gulf of Mexico. This dead zone is about 5,309 square miles and happens every spring. The dead has decreased in size over the years. In 2017, the average dead zone was about 8,776 square miles. However, it’s predicted to increase this year to about 6,952 square miles because pollution continues to increase due to human activity. These dead zones don’t just sit there unharmful, but rather these are affecting several plants and animals. Crevalle Jack, Cutlassfish, gulf flounders, algae, and cyanobacteria all suffer from these dead zones taking action. What’s causing this dead zones to occur? A nitrogen-rich runoff containing nitrogen and phosphorus from agricultural lands and sewage. This blooms algae, then the algae sinks and dies, and then are decomposed by bacteria. After that process the oxygen levels drop off. The first dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico was reported in 1950 but didn’t become a research matter till 1970 when it continued to show growth. Now the question comes to be…how do we end this? Some possible solutions would be to reduce or eliminate fertilizer use, make sure water sewage treatment plants are working properly, and eliminating the chemicals that manufacturers’ plants discharge into the environment. 

A dead zone doesn’t just take place in the Gulf of Mexico, but it also takes place in the Chesapeake Bay! It’s called the bad water and happens every summer. This year, the dead zone was about 1.97 cubic miles. In recent years the dead zone had only been about 1.74 cubic meters. This means that this year it had increased in comparison with the years before. This dead zone is also caused by pollution from human induced events. The dead zone of the Chesapeake Bay is simply caused by an excessive amount of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution dished out by human events. This dead zone doesn’t go without harming other creatures. The dead zone kills several species such as rockfish, crabs, oysters, seagrasses, and vital menhaden. 

Judy Bowie, the Mattox Creek owner, says that there were dead fish piled about 8 inches deep by the boat ramp. This has become a serious issue. What can we do to prevent this? Again, people can stop using fertilizers. Humans can help as an individual by reducing the amount of pollution that can runoff your property. This can be done by creating a rain barrel to capture and absorb rainfall or by rerouting the water into the grass rather than down the road. 

In conclusion, the dead zones are similar in several ways. These are both based on human induced events and can be prevented or regulated by the help of each and every individual. When people say we need to protect the oceans, they mean it. Just two dead zones may not look like a major problem but actually 405 existing dead zones in today’s ocean. However, looking back, we see that both dead zones harmed several creatures of the sea. The only difference is the type of species. Another difference is the Chesapeake Bay dead zone happens mostly in the summer and the Gulf of Mexico dead zone happens mostly in the spring. The Gulf of Mexico is way larger than the dead zone in Chesapeake Bay. However, no matter the size or the season of the dead zones, people need to take this environmental problem a little more serious. There are ways we can start reducing the amount of dead zone, but yet we are doing nothing about it? This is a problem, as stated above, that individuals can help one at a time.

https://serc.carleton.edu/microbelife/topics/deadzone/index.html

https://www.cbf.org/issues/dead-zones/

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