“The overall big picture here is that surface water carbon dioxide levels are indeed increasing in the Gulf of Mexico (except in the central Gulf) and human activities are contributing to this acidification,” says Shamberger. “Also, coastal acidification is occurring faster than open ocean acidification, which is especially troubling for coastal coral reef and shellfish ecosystems that support many important fisheries species.”
Gulf of Mexico
Threats to the species include energy exploration and development, oil spills and clean up efforts, vessel strikes, human noise and entanglement in fishing gear. There are less than 100 of the whales left in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico near the De Soto canyon, where the population resides.
“As discussed in the press release, there still remains a need to reduce the nutrient load entering the Gulf of Mexico and the smaller observed size was likely a result of storm and wind conditions and are not necessarily an indication of a long-term decrease in hypoxia area,” said Keeley Belva, a spokeswoman for the National Ocean Service.
One surprise in their findings, Murawski said, was that the part of the gulf with the lowest diversity of fish species is the area of the gulf with the greatest number of offshore oil rigs.
“They’ve had 50 to 60 years of oil development there,” he said. “So that may be one of the at-risk areas” in case of a future oil spill. A disaster like Deepwater Horizon could more easily wipe out the fish living there to the point where they could not bounce back, he explained.
(Reuters) – The only resident group of whales in the Gulf of Mexico, a population numbering fewer than 50 animals off the Florida panhandle, has moved one step closer to possible federal protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The… Read More ›
Dolphins are dying in great numbers in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Since February 2010, 1,308 dead or dying marine mammals — mostly bottlenose dolphins, including juveniles or aborted fetuses — have washed ashore on beaches and wetlands from Texas… Read More ›
The gulf dead zone is only one piece of a larger, environmental problem with U.S. agriculture and watershed issues, however. The gulf just happens to be one of the areas where effects of agricultural practices and pollution are more visible. These kind of problems, though, are far reaching, effect the whole country and are heavily tied to government and industry.
Editor’s Note: Do you have an opinion about seismic exploration and marine mammals? Recent studies have shown negative impacts on the hearing of marine mammals in waters where the blasts of seismic testing has been implemented. Other research shows no… Read More ›