Dead Zones


Episode Description

It sounds futuristic, but “Dead Zones” exist in our water environments and are rapidly increasing in size and number. Why? A Dead Zone is a body of water with greatly reduced oxygen, often causing marine life to die. Habitats that were once teeming with life are reduced to biological deserts. Run-off of nutrients from farming is a major culprit. The Brothers travel to the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Erie to examine two of the world’s largest and most notorious Dead Zones. Farms are a primary source of nutrient pollution, and the Brothers visit innovative farmers who are changing things around. Can these bodies of water be restored to their former glory and what can Dead Zones tell us about the way we grow our food here at home and around the world?

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4 comments on “Dead Zones

  1. Hi,
    I have only seen 1 episode yet and really enjoyed it. Thank you.

    In the Dead Zones episode it was mentioned that “Farms are a primary source of nutrient pollution, and the Brothers visit innovative farmers who are changing things around.” That’s great – I’ve heard of revitalizing a “dead farm” before by rotating where the grazing animals feed to add nutrients and such. It’s logical. I also like the perspective that for a super farm the food still has to be grown, requiring a certain amount of land, so allowing for free range makes much more sense to produce higher quality animals and maximizing benefits of the land.

    Now, my question. If excess nutrient run off from fertilizing creates the algae bloom in the lakes that then removes excessive oxygen from the lakes, and kill oxygen dependent creatures, thus killing the lakes, why can the excess algae not be skimmed off/out (perhaps in a similar method as removing oil from spills as it looked largely buoyant in the waves as they reached shore) and have the algae applied to the fields as fertilizer? Perhaps it too toxic? Yet it was created by the fertilizer….
    I know it would be a significant undertaking however to maintain our lakes and our environment….Is it much different to undertakings for other resources?

    Thanks for your input.
    M. (Ottawa)

    1. Hi M,

      Great question! We have encountered this idea of harvesting algae before and a few companies in the US are trying to make it into a real business. Unfortunately, it seems that because the big algae blooms are so spread out and change in size every year, it would be hard to create a sustainable business based on harvesting such a volatile material. This Wall Street Journal Article gives a good breakdown of how the companies plan to do it and why it may not work. Of course, the only real solution is to control the pollution at the source, but ideas like this are certainly inspiring and could help a great deal if they pan out.

      Hope this helps and thanks for watching!


  2. I am trying to find the info on the organic farm near Peterborough that you showed us at Aquafest. I met you inGrand Bend and we talked about Prof Verena Tunnicliff and her research ..

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