Floodwaters causing new ‘dead zone’ in Gulf

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The heavy rains that caused major flooding along several Texas rivers over the past several weeks are fueling the creation of a new “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico and soon could lead to significant problems for marine life and commercial fishing.

Steve DiMarco, a Texas A&M scientist explains that “dead zones” are formed when freshwater empties into the salty waters of the Gulf, causing oxygen levels to drop and deprives marine life of oxygen.

He’s quoted as saying when this happens, the coastal waters become stratified, meaning that the lighter freshwater will stay at the surface and cap the saltier, and heavier, ocean water beneath.

Stratification is happening now and will continue in the weeks to come. It almost always means many marine organisms particularly those that live near and at the ocean bottom can’t get enough oxygen. They can become sick and die.

DiMarco says the Brazos, Trinity, Colorado and other rain swollen Texas rivers now are carrying record amounts of freshwater south to the Gulf.

“There are no reports of fish kill yet,” he said. “We’re still fairly early in the process.”

Source: Associate Press

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