The “dead zone” has grown this year due to increased rainfall in America’s Midwest washing ever greater amounts of nutrients into the Mississippi, which ultimately end up in the Gulf. Not only is this a huge conservation issue – the Gulf contains key nursery habitats such as mangrove forests, sea grass beds and coral reefs that benefit adjacent fisheries – but it also has huge consequences for the local fishing economy, particularly the shrimp industry.
In the century since Muir’s death, things have sped up. A larger population demands more food which means more deforestation, more farmland and more fertilizer. The increase demand placed on our land is ultimately affecting the marine environment.
These losses are unsustainable. The marine environment is integral for all life on earth, from an ecological and economic point of view. If we keep losing ecosystem services such as coastal nursery habitats and spawning grounds at this current rate, it will not just be an area the size of a state that is a dead zone, but the whole Gulf, or even whole oceans.
Continue reading: “Dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico is biggest ever