Researchers of the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany have discovered unexpectedly low oxygen dead zones traveling inside 100-mile-long eddies of swirling water across the Atlantic Ocean. Their discovery was published in the journal, Biogeosciences.
The dead zones formed in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, a few hundred kilometers off the coast of West Africa.
Swirling water creates a wall around the central core of water, disallowing an exchange of oxygen across the boundary between the rotating current and the surrounding ocean. The circulation creates a very shallow layer of intense plant growth on top of the swirling water. As the algae start to die, they sink to the bottom and decompose, which removes oxygen from the water.
The depletion of oxygen makes the water unable to sustain any form of marine life.
This is the first dead zone found in the open seas. The traveling dead zone is likely to affect people living in Cape Verde, as it may put severe stress on the coastal ecosystems.