A new underwater expedition has found that Gulf of Oman’s massive “dead zone” off the coast of Iran and Pakistan is much worse than scientists had expected. “Dead zones” are oxygen-depleted bodies of water that can no longer sustain marine life.
Researchers found that the dead zone in the Gulf of Oman is the largest in the world. It is the first time a research team was able to take a closer look at the area even though the dead zone was first spotted 50 years ago.
Scientists deployed a couple of underwater robots aka seagliders in the sea. The robots gathered information on the dead zone for about eight months.
The robotic explorers found that the dead zone is now 165,000 square kilometers across. Researchers noted that the oxygen-depleted area in the Gulf of Oman is currently the size of Scotland or Florida. The Gulf is 181,000 square kilometers across.
Scientists have known for years that dead zones appear naturally in locations covered by the sea. However, in recent years, the dead zones’ number and size have been increasing. Some of the likely culprits are wastewater and fertilizers.
The Ocean Is Suffocating
Fertilizers boost the number of algae blooms which deplete the water of oxygen. The aquatic plants can also clog fish gills, with some of the algae releasing toxins into the water.
Researcher Bastien Queste noted that “the ocean is suffocating” and dead zones are proof that it is happening. Queste and his fellow researchers teamed up with Oman’s Sultan Qaboos University for the research.
A research paper detailing the findings appeared in American Geophysical Union’s Geophysical Research Letters journal.
Queste warned that the dead zones’ situation is “worse than feared.” He also found that the dead zone in the Gulf of Oman is expanding at an accelerated pace.
Computer models revealed that other locations will share the Gulf of Oman’s fate, with global dead zones expanding over the next century.
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