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The dead zones in our oceans are spreading, according to new research

The Baltic Sea

Research by the University of Gothenburg shows that more than 400 marine zones around the world has such "a great lack of oxygen in soft seabeds that fauna and fish have been harmed." The research made by the Swedish University also shows that the dead soft seabeds have doubled every decade since the 60's.

Back in 1995 Rutger Rosenberg, from the Department of Marine Ecology, University of Gothenburg, and Robert Diaz, from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in the USA, carried out research and studies on the world's soft seabeds. Their research then showed 44 zones "that were so afflicted by oxygen deficiency that soft-seabed fauna and fish had been harmed."

Now, nearly 13 years after that research the numbers of dead zones have risen to more than 400. These latest findings, which have been presented in the latest issue of the magazine Science, draw the conclusion that this is "the most serious threat to the health of the sea" and that it is and will affect important fishing areas.

"There are no other variables of such great ecological significance for coastal marine ecosystems, and which have changed so drastically in such a short time, as the reduced amount of oxygen in the sea. In the periods when the oxygen deficiency has its largest spread in Scandinavia, there can be a deficit of over three million tonnes of soft-seabed fauna, compared to the situation if the soft seabeds had been well oxygenated", says Rutger Rosenberg.

The dead zones together are "at least" 245,000 square kilometres big, or equal to the size of Great Britain. The worst places hit are the Baltic Sea in northern Europe, the Gulf of Mexico and the East China Sea.

Image credit: txd. Image licensed under a Creative-Commons Attribution license.

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’The reason for the lack of oxygen is primarily man’s increased discharge of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous. Before industrialisation hardly any oxygen deficiency existed at all in the soft seabeds of coastal seas’, state Rutger Rosenberg and Robert Diaz.

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