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06.12 Too Much of a Good Thing
Transcript of 06.12 Too Much of a Good Thing
DEAD ZONE IN FLORIDA KEYS
Types of Nutrients
Excessive use of commerical fertilizers in agriculture is a big contributor to eutrophication in the United States. Runoff from places such as farms wash into rivers and streams. Types of nutrients include nitrogen and phosphorus. These nutrients feed cyanobactiera (blue-green aglae). When there are too many nutrients, this blue-green algae grows out of control. As stated before, the use of commerical fetilizers, along with other human activities, are the main cause of the excess nitrogen and phosphorus washing into the ocean.
In the freshwater layer of the ocean, big algae blooms are created. Once the algae dies, it goes to the saltwater layer and decomposes. The decomposing bacteria causes the “dead zone” problem because it uses up the oxygen that's in the deeper part of the ocean. Because of this, decomposing bacteria has a negative effect on marine life. The marine life wither, die, or leaves due to the fact that the area once filled with enough oxygen is now nothing more than a dead zone.
By Amber A.
Vol XCIII, No. 311
What is a Dead Zone?
WHAT CAN WE DO TO FIX THE PROBLEM?
Dead zones are large regions of water that have very little oxygen. They usually occur when the water gets too many nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, and the oxygen levels are depleted. This is a process known as eutrophication. Since there is hardly any oxygen, it's nearly impossible for organisms to thrive in dead zones. Little to no marine life exists here. Many bacteria, on the other hand, manage to survive in dead zones.
Wait, too many nutrients is a bad thing? How does it affect the environment? Well, excessive amounts of nutrients result in illnesses to humans or marine life, oxygen depletion, contamination of ground/surface water, and weakened immune systems.
Stopping the use of synthetic fertilizer altogether would be a great solution, since it is a source of phosphorus and nitrogen. But the issue is that industrial farmers depend on fertilizers that encourage plants to grow. It would be better if there was a limit on the amount of fertilizer they could use, so that the soil can absorb just enough and not too much. Another solution would be to use natural sources of nutrients, like manure and compost. Along with farming methods like contour cropping, the amount of runoff would be reduced since the soil will collect more nutrients and water. Last but not least, we could restore coastal wetlands. The wetlands will provide a natural filter for the water trying to reach the ocean. This in turn will remove excess nutrients.
06.12 Too Much of a Good Thing
EVENT 4: A Dead Zone has finally formed. Very little, if any, marine life lives there. Meanwhile, some bacteria are survicing in the Dead Zone.
EVENT 3: Because there is little to no oxygen, the deeper water transforms into a "dead zone." Fish are to avoid the area or else they will perish. Plants wither away.
EVENT 2: The algae begin to die. They sink into the saltwater layer, decomposing. As they decompose, they use up the oxygen in the deeper water.
EVENT 1: Fertilizer is dumped, which means nitrogen and phosphorus go into streams/rivers and make their way into the ocean. The excess nutrients reach the freshwater layer, creating large algae blooms.
- Nitrogen, phosphorous and various toxins come from from gardening fertilizers. They also come from pesticides and herbicides, petroleum products from cars, and cleaning agents.
Dumping In the Sea
- There are many boats that dump waste into the ocean, contaminating the water.
- Sewage adds phosphorus and nitrogen to the water. There is an excessive amount of these nutrients. They feed the organism known as cyanobacteria. When it has too many nutrients, it can be a bad thing. Explosive algae blooms occur, which in turn depletes the oxygen supply.
- Large quantities of chemicals from US Industries are ending up in our marine environment every year.
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"Dead-Zone." Smm.org. Science Museum of Minnesota, n.d. Web. Mar. 2015.
"Massive 'dead Zone' Fouls Gulf off Florida." Seattlepi.com. Seattle Pi, n.d. Web. Mar. 2015.