Sunday, August 13, 2006

A dead ocean

In distant parts of the world, this news may not have yet surfaced. Off the beautiful coast of Oregon, marine scientists have found again this year a large expanse of ocean in which there is no oxygen to speak of and, as a result, every living thing which is unable to move fast enough to escape is dead. Everything. In recent years, smaller dead zones had been noted. This year's is just bigger and deader. I understand it is estimated to extend about 100 miles north to south. Apparently this is not a common occurence in the ocean cycle--so much so that the scientists were truly taken by surprise. Why is it happening? Apparently the oxygenation process of the water is dependent on temperature differentials creating a convectionlike 'upwelling'. This process has stopped in the dead areas. With no oxygen, there is no food chain. Not a good thought. And why has the 'upwelling' stopped?? No one is sure. The agreement, though, is that it's unheralded. Is this happening elsewhere in the world? I don't know. I have always been reassured standing at the edge of the mighty Pacific, watching the breakers crash on the beach and smelling the tang of the sea. A scent that's full of life. The thought that there might be nothing beneath the waves is frightening.

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