Oxygen-depleted Waters in Arabian Sea Raise Concern Over Fisheries, Ecosystems

May 7, 2018

The ‘dead zone’ measures approximately the size of Florida

Researchers have long been at work studying the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) present in the Gulf of Oman in the Arabian Sea. According to the analysis, the oxygen-depleted waters span an area approximately 63,700 square miles in size, which is comparable to the surface of Florida.

The OMZ had not been studied since the 1990’s due to the political instability and threat of piracy present in the region. The new research demonstrates significant growth of the zone, posing an escalating threat to all life within the area.

Researchers utilized remote-control submarines in order to effectively comb and analyze the OMZ over an eight-month period. Data gathered was then transmitted via satellite to the researchers on the surface.

Due to the alarming growth over the period since the last study was conducted, researchers warn that the issue must be addressed immediately if the wish is to avoid significant consequences for life both in and out of the ocean.

“The take-home message is that standing on the beach looking out, the sea will look identical. You’re not going to notice the impact straight away, but things are changing incredibly rapidly and dangerously,” said Dr. Bastien Queste, lead author of the study. “It’s a real environmental problem, with dire consequences for humans, too, who rely on the oceans for food and employment.”

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Image courtesy Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ).