Monday, July 18, 2011

Dead Zones - Right on Schedule

Our Bay: Chesapeake's dead zone back with a vengeance 
It has happened again.

Like clockwork each summer, the waters of the Chesapeake Bay become starved of oxygen, leaving vast stretches of the water inhospitable to fish, crabs, oysters and even tiny worms.

And this summer's oxygen-deprived "dead zone" - which already has appeared - could be one of the worst ever.

"We're going to have one of the worst years," said Bruce Michael, director of the Resource Assessment Service at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Much of the dead zone is our own doing.

People who live in the bay's watershed send nutrients coursing into the water through septic systems, sewage discharge, fertilizer runoff and stormwater runoff.

The nutrients fuel the growth of algae blooms. And when the algae die, the decomposition process sucks oxygen out of the water.

That process is intensified this year due to Mother Nature. Heavy spring rains and strong flow of the Susquehanna River have brought nutrients into the bay and rivers more quickly and in larger amounts.
I haven't seen a "crab jubilee"  myself this year, but I have heard from semi-reliable sources that we had one at the beach last week while I was working.  I can see the methane bubbles rising from the bottom on my depth finder.  Yep, it's here again.

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