Scare You to Death Week: The Ocean’s Dead Zone

Boo!  All week long, the Eco Women will be posting about the environmental issues that scare them the most.

According to the United Nations’ Environment Program, nearly 150 oxygen deprived “dead zones” caused by excessive nitrogen (from fertilizers, sewage, factories & cars) are now accounted for.  The nitrogen triggers a proliferation of plankton which then deplete the oxygen in the water.  Fish flee, but bottom dwellers like clams, lobsters & oysters can’t escape.  These “dead zones” range from the Adriatic Sea to the Chesapeake Bay and measure from a square mile to 45,000 square miles in size.

Climate change is another factor in worsening water conditions.  The rapid growth of “dead zones” has affected more than fishing — although in places like Norway, fishing industries have collapsed.  Many species cannot escape or evolve, so they die.  As microbes and other bottom dwellers die off, large species further up the food chain suffer because their food source disappears.  Coral reefs, known for their biodiversity, are disappearing at record rates due to rising ocean temperatures and depleting oxygen supplies–20% of the world’s reefs have already been destroyed.

Add in record algae blooms (toxic to people and animals) and the oceans’ health is looking pretty weak.


You betcha.

But even scarier?

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, located north of Hawaii, covers an area approximately twice the size of Texas. Because all water flows to the ocean and the currents do collide, all plastic (which is not biodegradable, but rather through the sun goes through photodegradation) breaks into small pieces that turns into a watery soup.  The plastic pieces outweigh zooplankton 6 to1 and float to a depth of 100 feet.  It drifts — some drops to the ocean floor–and it’s affecting sea life, birds suffocate on it, turtles choke to death on it, fish mistake it to food.  Plastic debris releases chemicals into the ocean and absorbs pollutants like PCBs and DDT.  These pollutants magnify up the food chain and their effects on most species are still not known.   As we make, use and dispose of plastic, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch continues to grow.

Three-quarters of our planet is made up of ocean.  Our pollution is devastating it beyond repair — some experts even hypothesize that all food in the ocean contains plastic.  It probably won’t even matter anymore when a check out person asks “Paper or plastic,” because really?  Plastic has now dominated our planet.

For more, read Discover Magazine’s frightening report on our oceans’ health.

3 thoughts on “Scare You to Death Week: The Ocean’s Dead Zone

  1. the PCB problem is HUGE…. and it is not temporary…

    plastic takes 500 to 800 years to bio-degrade…

    so unless we find a real solution, it could be hundreds… if not thousands of years before the Oceans are pristine again…

    and that’s if we stop polluting them… get the plastic out of all the Oceans… and keep it out… and stop using our Living Oceans as a garbage bin,,,

    otherwise… the plastic will continue to “photo-degrade” into plastic snow, circulating all oceans via conveyor belt currents… absorbing PCB and DDT… that then become consumed by marine life… mistaking the plastic bits for plankton… including coral reef polyps… and moving on up the entire food chain… so… the big fish eat the little fish that ate the little plankton… and the PCBs “bio-magnify” up the entire food chain to all consumers in the food chain… including humans… and even our pets… if they eat petfood containing seafood…

    most of the world’s major rivers and ocean depths are polluted with PCBs… it is heavier than saltwater.. so it sinks to the deepest parts… and now the photo-degrading plastic bits are picking it up… and the rest is history… and worse still… it’s probably the future…

    already we are seeing skyrocketing numbers of children with autism and similar learning challenges… with no definite clue as to why… recent research demonstrated trace PCB exposure in lab mice “mothers”, easily passes through the breast milk to the pups… and disrupts normal neural tissue development in the newborns… PCBs are known to be neuro-toxic… and carcinogenic… please Google “PCB, plastic, autism”…

    about boycotting… that’s another tough one… i have listed the main corporations in the blog ( and they are being sued for millions in damages… even though they have stopped making “that” chemical… they can change a molecule or two… and release another chemical.. like PBDEs… that are currently used in making many plastic products “flame-proof”… (see: now firefighters are fighting against the use of PBDE’s as they discover the plague of cancer in firefighters… and this same company… has changed names and ownership several times… and now produces “genetically engineered” crop seeds… patenting seeds for the first time in history… their crops require extra fertilizer and are said to be “Round-Up-Ready”… in other wards… you can spray those crops with the pesticide “Round-Up”… and it wont kill the crop plant… and they are suing farmers if the farmer keeps the seeds in storage from year to year… something farmers have done for thousands of years is now illegal… this company is huge… owning the majority of the world’s crop seeds… please see: (… i recently read that the Italians are setting fire to their factories in Europe… but it’s not going to be easy to boycott the main company that supplies the majority of the world with food…

    Capt Jacques-Yves Cousteau and GreenPeace were right all along…

    and still.. it’s like nobody wants to hear it… everyone just wants to enjoy their private lives… and have another beer… and let “mother nature” take care of it…

    well i am here to say.. we are the hands and voice of mother nature… mother nature is not an imaginary life force for our misplaced responsibility for our human failings… the buck stops here… and life does in fact “begin to end” on the day we remain silent about things that really matter… (Dr M.L. King, Jr) like the health of our children and all the beautiful animals in the only living Oceans in the entire universe… unless NASA just discovered another one… and i say STOP the exploration of distant outer space until we have SOLVED the HUGE problems in our own Living Oceans!

    larry –in key largo

    Capt Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Rachel Carson and GreenPeace were right all along…

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