The situation occurring in Mexico’s dead zone hasn’t improved, in fact, it has gotten worse.
What is a dead zone? It’s an area in an ocean or big lake, found in lots of places around the world, with hypoxia, in other words, oxygen depletion. When there is oxygen depletion, the area affected by this problem causes the instability to support marine life. When there are too much growth and bloom of algae it chokes the water and makes it not possible for marine like to survive with the inadequate amount of oxygen. But, how does nature suddenly start blooming and getting all these nutrients enough to keep spreading this hypoxia? Well, it doesn’t work alone. It’s also our fault because one way or another the nitrates and phosphorus that our farmers use in farming eventually seeps into our water systems and into the ocean which makes the algae flourish and grow and bloom and other things that shouldn’t happen because it (LITERALLY) chokes the ocean and the marine life below it.
Since we covered the basics and everything you will probably need to know about hypoxia and dead zones, we can now focus on a specific ‘dead zone’ and that is in the Gulf of Mexico.
On April 20, 2010, one of the biggest oil spills in the BP (British Petroleum) and American records and history occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. It happened just a day after they sealed the 70-kilometer deep hole with concrete followed by a metal valve used to stop the flow of oil entering the ocean. While the men were doing their inspection of the day old concrete, they noticed that oil and gas have actually been spilling out into the water through the faulty concrete and failed valve.
87 days past before they finally sealed the oil spill which already gave out 5,000 gallons of oil per day! Let’s do the math here: It would be an estimate of 5,000 x 57 which equals to 435, 000 gallons. HOLY MACARONI. Imagine how much has spread already? Especially since the oil spill was close to the dead zone, which made a few people worry things would get much worse. Honestly, a LARGE oil spill next to a DEAD ZONE. Nah-uh not a good combination nor timing. Won’t it affect the surviving animals living in the area? Think about it. The people in the restaurants were worried about the food they’ve been serving thinking it might affect the people, but they trusted it was all in good hands.
The oil soon mixed and glued itself to the plankton and other bacteria i
n the ocean which caused marine snow to sink to the bottom. What if small creatures and animals start eating this. These are some of the worries fishermen had when catching the food. But, fortunately, due to the natural oil seeps, the flora and fauna of the ocean have adapted to the oily marine snow. Yes, there are actually natural oils that seep from the earth. Th- WAIT, what is marine snow you wonder? It looks like the picture below —>
How dangerous it would have been to be the person underwater checking out the valves and the fear of it not properly functioning. There have been many oil spills through history. One after another there has news flashes saying “Now this one is the biggest oil spill..” It just keeps getting bigger. Luckily, they got to shut out the rest of the oil spill, even though it was after 87 days.
According to National Wildlife Federation, below are the lists of affected animals near the Gulf of Mexico:
Dolphins and Whales
- Nearly all of the 21 species of dolphins and whales that live in the northern Gulf have demonstrable, quantifiable injuries.
- The number of bottlenose dolphins in Barataria Bay and the Mississippi Sound – two places particularly affected by oil – are projected to decline by half. Multiple studies have determined that the injuries to bottlenose dolphins were caused by oil from the disaster.
- It is estimated that it will take approximately one hundred years for the spinner dolphin population to recover.
- There are only a few dozen Bryde’s whales in the Gulf. Nearly half this population was exposed to oil, and nearly a quarter of these whales were likely killed. The long-term survival of this population is in doubt.
- Scientists estimate that as many as 167,000 sea turtles of all ages were killed during the disaster.
- In 2010, the once-remarkable recovery of the endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle halted abruptly. Scientists remain concerned about this species of sea turtle, which is known to congregate and feed in areas that were oiled off the Louisiana coast.
- Heavy oil affected nearly a quarter of the Sargassum – a type of floating seaweed – in the northern Gulf. Sargassum is an important habitat for juvenile sea turtles.
- Studies have determined that oil is particularly toxic for many species of larval fish, causing deformation and death. The federal study estimates that the disaster directly killed between two and five million larval fish.
- At this time, the data does not indicate that the oil spill caused significant decreases in populations of commercially harvested fish species.
- However, a number of species of fish have documented oil spill injuries. For example in 2011, some red snapper and other fish caught in oiled areas had unusual lesions, rotting fins, or oil in their livers. Oil spill impacts have been documented in fish species such as southern flounder, redfish, and kill fish.
- At least 93 species of bird were exposed to oil. The resulting loss of birds is expected to have meaningful effects on food webs of the northern Gulf of Mexico.
- Species particularly affected include brown and white pelicans, laughing gulls, Audubon’s shearwaters, northern gannets, clapper rails, black skimmers, white ibis, double-crested cormorants, common loons, and several species of tern.
The Gulf Floor
- Scientists estimate the habitats on the bottom of the Gulf could take anywhere from multiple decades to hundreds of years to fully recover.
- A significant portion of the Gulf floor was affected by oil. The federal study confirmed that at least 770 square miles around the wellhead were affected, while a separate analysis determined that at least 1,200 square miles were affected. Both studies suggested that a significant amount of oil was likely deposited on the ocean floor outside the areas of known damage.
- Coral colonies in five separate locations in the Gulf – three in deep sea and two in shallower waters – show signs of oil damage.
Dolphins, whales, turtles, fish and birds are getting affect by this and they already have lots of other things to worry about such as plastic. Now, here’s the most shocking truth. This 2017 they found out that the dead zone at the Gulf of Mexico is the size of New Jersey! NEW JERSEY. The size is about 8776 square miles.
We can stop this. Start gathering solutions people you can do it! Some ways are to stop utilizing the products that help in causing the blooming, like nitrate. Keep thinking creative my awesome readers.