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Hypoxia and Dead Zones

8 October 2014, 9:15 am

Hypoxia and Dead Zones

In ocean and freshwater environments, the term "hypoxia" refers to low or depleted oxygen in a water body. Hypoxia is often associated with the overgrowth of certain species of algae, which can lead to oxygen depletion when they die, sink to the bottom, and decompose. In some cases, vast stretches of open water become hypoxic. Unable to sustain life, these areas, called dead zones, may cause die-offs of fish, shellfish, corals, and aquatic plants. Since 1985, NOAA-sponsored research has monitored the largest dead zone in the United States, which forms every spring in the northern Gulf of Mexico. In 2014, it grew to cover more than 5,000 square miles of the sea floor.

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Original article: Hypoxia and Dead Zones