Scientists recently identified a dead zone as large as Florida in the Gulf of Oman. The 65,755 square mile area is now devoid of marine life due, in large part, to climate change and human pollution.

The increasing size of dead zones in the ocean is threatening the animal populations in our oceans and leading to the destruction of underwater life. But scientists say the damage doesn’t have to be permanent. One study has called for further investigation of the Gulf of Oman to understand how to manage the fisheries and ecosystems of the Western Indian Ocean to prevent dead zones from widening.

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Dead zones are created when warm water washes over colder, deeper water, producing the perfect conditions for algae to bloom and soak up the sunshine on the water’s surface. With the increase of human runoff which can consist of sewage, fertilizer, or any other organic material. When these organic masses sink to the bottom and begin to decompose, the bacteria that feed on them steal oxygen from other marine life.

Read More: More Than 70 Sea Lions Have Been Poisoned by a Toxic Algae Bloom in California

As water temperatures rise and algae grow more rapidly, the number and size of dead zones in the oceans are increasing. The American Association for the Advancement of Science published a worldwide analysis in January confirming that oxygen-depleted dead zones have expanded by several million square kilometers over the last century.

But several measures can help stop the spread of dead zones and reverse their devastating effect.

In 2010, the EPA established a total maximum daily load of pollution for the Chesapeake Bay, one of the bodies of water most affected by dead zones. The EPA put the Chesapeake Bay on a “pollution diet,” limiting the amount of organic material and sediment that could legally enter the Bay and saw nitrogen levels decrease by 8% between 2009 and 2015.

In a recent study, a team of scientists from Global Ocean Oxygen Network (GO2NE), also found that addressing the causes of pollution and climate change, creating no-catch zones to protect marine life in waters with low oxygen levels, and improving low-oxygen tracking and monitoring worldwide, could all help combat the problem.

Read more: How Algae Could Help Sweden Entirely Eliminate Carbon Emissions

Global Citizen campaigns to support Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas, and marine resources. Take action here and help communities worldwide withstand climate disaster.


Defend the Planet

Scientists Discovered a Dead Zone the Size of Florida in the Gulf of Oman

By Erica Sánchez  and  Jasper Lo