What is Causing Ocean Life to Beach Itself in an Attempt to Breathe?
While the Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico is dominating news coverage of the Ocean, there still remains the unsolved older problem of the famous dead zone in the Gulf.
Yet dead zones aren't limited to the Gulf: there are dozens of large areas of water periodically without oxygen around the world. Those zones are having quite a dramatic and adverse effect in some areas. A lack of oxygen has the aquatic life swimming or crawling to shore and literally beaching themselves in a desperate attempt to breathe. This act is so prevalent in the summer months that the tragic spectacle has even come up with its own term of reference, a Jubilee (The tragic results of which can be seen below).
So the question inevitably comes up, 'What causes a Jubilee to happen?' Well, Dr. Kent Mountford has a great technical explanation of what exactly is at the root causing Jubilees, and I'll summarize the answer to that question from his article in the Chesapeake Bay Journal.
1. Nutrient and fertilizer rich runoff water enters from rivers that feed into an area from farms which results in a huge plankton bloom.
2. Those plankton die and settle to the bottom of the water. The sun breaks down the plankton, causing millions of pounds of oxygen to be used up.
3. Winds sweep the oxygen at the top layer away from the coast, and that top layer of water is then replaced by the oxygen depleted deeper water.
4. This leaves no oxygen in any layer of the water and the aquatic life scrambling to find oxygen to breathe. They hopelessly go to shore and are trapped there unable to breathe.Continued on the next page