The nutrients that kill

By: Victor Alvarado

Our oceans, lakes, and rivers are rapidly being swarmed by a global wave of blue-green algae, also known as algal blooms or Red Tides as they are called by environmental specialists. These red tides are caused by an excess amount of nutrients, such as phosphorous or nitrogen, depositing into a body of water. Over the past few years, Florida’s West Coast has become an area for these harmful bodies of algae to grow prolifically. As stated by Clarissa Anderson, an oceanographer from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography : “Things have just gotten so much worse in the coasts”.

These algal blooms are leaving behind a trail of death wherever they fare to. Algal blooms bring about multiple baleful factors that destroy ecosystems. For starters, these algal blooms encompass a large area on the water surface, reducing the amount of sunlight  that normally hits the floor vegetation bottom. and eating away at the nutrients in the water . “How does this affect a body of water?” Ronny Garcia asked. The algae, inevitably, prevents these autotrophic plants from performing photosynthesis, which in response will reduce the amount of oxygen in the water and kill any living organisms in the water along with the plants. The depletion of nutrients in the water would cause both heterotrophic and autotrophic organisms to slowly die off. The death of these organisms trigger a domino-effect that will ultimately destroy the ecosystem. The dead organisms would be eaten and decomposed by aerobic bacteria (bacteria that utilize oxygen to function), resulting in the oxygen levels decreasing so low that no organisms would be able to withstand him.

As stated by John Innes Centre, a reporter for Science Daily, some solutions to these algal blooms are as directed:

1) Reduce pollution levels: Driving hybrid cars or electric cars reduce the usage of gasoline and amount of runoff pollution.

2) For farmers: Use less fertilizer, pesticides, or herbicides on crops; instead, enforce less messy ways to dispose of pests, such as plucking weeds oneself, GMOs, or introducing guard animals to your crops (like a spider that feeds on insects but not the crops).

3) Introducing H2O2 (Hydrogen Peroxide) to bodies of water. The Hydrogen Peroxide would kill the toxic algae and prevent further disturbance in the ecosystem.

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