The Worlds Largest Dead Zone

Phytoplankton bloom in the Baltic Proper, July... 

Image via Wikipedia

Modern industrial and farming practices are having a devastating effect on our natural habitat.  In many cases this effect is difficult to quantify and explain in terms of cause and effect. Just look at the controversy surrounding global warming.

The effect of our life style on the availability of fresh water is more clear cut than it is for global warming and documented on National Geographic’s Freshwater Web site.

Surprisingly our beloved Baltic is one of the areas that is under threat. There has been an explosion of microscopic algae called phytoplankton which is sucking up oxygen and choking aquatic life. So much so, that the Baltic is now home to seven of the world’s ten largest marine “dead zones”—areas where the sea’s oxygen has been depleted by seabed bacteria that decompose the carpet of dead algae.

Overfishing of Baltic cod has intensified the problem.  Cod eat sprats, a small, herring-like species that eat microscopic marine creatures called zooplankton that in turn eat the algae. Fewer cod means more sprats and less zooplankton and therefore more algae and less oxygen.

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