Large part of Chesapeake Bay is dead zone

Jul 27, 2005

Scientists this month reported finding more than a third of Chesapeake Bay -- the United States' largest estuary -- is a low-oxygen "dead zone."

That, the scientists told the Baltimore Sun, means the bay might experience one of its most unhealthy summers on record.

"The things we love to eat out of the bay will not do well with this kind of summer," Bill Dennison, a University of Maryland ecologist, told the newspaper. "Oxygen is a crucial part of the environment for the fish and crabs and oysters, and having low oxygen or no oxygen is just as devastating for them as bulldozing a forest is for other creatures."

"Dead zones" form when fertilizer and other pollutants high in nitrogen and phosphorus are washed by rain into the bay. The compounds feed an explosive growth of algae, which, in turn, die and rot. Bacteria devouring such decay consume oxygen, suffocating marine life.

A study of the bay from Virginia to its origin at the Susquehanna River in northern Maryland found about 36 percent of the bay's central stem had less than 5 milligrams per liter of dissolved oxygen -- the minimum level needed by aquatic life.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Two Southwest Research Institute instruments selected for NASA Europa mission

Related Stories

Study: Global warming worsening watery dead zones

Nov 10, 2014

Global warming is likely playing a bigger role than previously thought in dead zones in oceans, lakes and rivers around the world and it's only going to get worse, according to a new study.

Study puts some mussels into Bay restoration

Sep 08, 2014

Restoring oysters—and their ability to filter large volumes of water—is widely seen as a key way to improve the health of Chesapeake Bay. New research makes this calculus even more appealing, showing ...

Recommended for you

Shining message about the end of the Dark Ages

1 hour ago

An international team, including researchers from the Centre for Astronomy of Heidelberg University (ZAH), has discovered three "cosmic Methusalems" from the earliest years of the universe. These unusual stars are about 13 ...

The kinematics of merging galaxies

1 hour ago

The unprecedented sensitivity of space telescopes has powered a revolution over the past decade in our understanding of galaxies in the young universe during its first billion years of existence. These primitive ...

Ariane 5's second launch of 2015

4 hours ago

An Ariane 5 lifted off last night from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana and delivered two telecom satellites into their planned orbits.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.