One World Essay: Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico
The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is a human problem, like most other disasters. What this means is that once the place thrived and was ecologically balanced, but we tipped the balance slightly and wrecked havoc upon the environment. It has been noted to occur since the 1950’s and is ongoing. The reason that this dead zone occurs is because of a phenomenon known as eutrophication. Eutrophication is when there is an excessive amount of nutrients in a body of water and it causes an abundance of plants to grow. In this case the nearby farms had been using nitrogen in their fertilizers. The nitrogen got carried into the ocean through rain and other forms of water. Nitrogen is an important aspect for plants to grow and a lack of it is normally what contains plants from growing in an excessive amount. Because farmers mainly use this, the dead zone has a considerable decrease in size in the winter season while it increases in size during the warm seasons. Eutrophication generally leads to another phenomenon know as hypoxia, which is the state of water when it is lacking oxygen. Having too much nitrogen leads to hypoxia, because there is a bloom in algae. Bacteria in the water then eat the algae and use all the oxygen in the process. Without oxygen in the water, a dead zone is formed, an area with little to no life. The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is around 6,000-7,000 square miles in size, but varies throughout seasons (source23879482371) (see Fig. 1).
Fig. 1 Size of Dead Zone
Environmental problems with this are that a huge marine ecosystem has been devastated. Hundreds upon thousands of marine life have been killed, along with the destruction of an entire ecosystem. Hypoxia is when the oxygen levels fall to below 2 milligrams of dissolved oxygen per liter. This can kill off most of the fish life, which therefore means that there will be nothing to eat the plants, so they will grow more, and cause a new cycle of death. Not only does it kill fish though, it also changes the cycle of life in the ecosystem. Some species might thrive in conditions that other struggle to survive. For example some predators might need more oxygen then a smaller prey. With less predators being around, there is a huge burst in prey, which can eat up all of the bacteria. When the bacteria all die, the prey can’t find any food and all die out. This causes a very unreliable food chain and can be dangerous to live in. In hypoxic zones what tends to happen is that marine life such as fish or...