The increase in rainfall in recent years in the Midwest of the United States has contributed to the increase in the Dead Zone of the Gulf of Mexico, an uninhabitable area devoid of oxygen that has the record of being the largest in the world, covering 2,729 sq km. At least, this is what Ian Hendy, a marine biologist at the University of Portsmouth, in the United States, said.
The origin of the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico
The Dead Zone is created inland by the cultivation areas of the American corn. The fertilizers used in this industry are washed out by the rains and reach as far as the Mississippi River. They then travel hundreds of miles along the Louisiana coast to the waters of Texas and finally flow into the sea.
A large number of substances in pesticides, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, stimulates a microscopic explosion of algae creating gigantic blooms.
This is the beginning of a natural phenomenon that directly destroys the oxygen reserves in the water. When they die, organic algae waste is degraded by bacteria whose job it is to break it down.
But because so many algae grow because of the nutrients in pesticides, bacteria use all the oxygen they have available, emptying the water reserves.
Every summer a large part of the Gulf of Mexico dies
In the absence of oxygen, living beings must leave the area or share the fate of mollusks, corals, sponges, and other static organisms that end up succumbing.
This is an ecological debacle that puts not only this ecosystem at risk but all the life on Earth.
“If we continue to lose ecosystem services such as coastal habitats and spawning areas at the current rate, dead zones will soon be not just an area the size of a state but of the entire Gulf.”
While some steps are already being taken to curb the growth of the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico, such as absorbing agricultural fertilizer along the waterways or filtering nutrients before leaving the Mississippi river, it is clear that the US farmers must greatly reduce their use of nitrogen and phosphates for this industry.
Erin VanDyke lives on her family farm and has more than 35 years of hands-on experience with the use of livestock guard dogs for predator control. On their farm, Jan and her family use corgis as herding dogs and have raised Shetland sheep, Fainting goats, Morgan and Trakehner horses, and historic breeds of chickens and turkeys. Erin is also an active beekeeper.