Chesapeake Bay’s ‘Dead Zone’ Expected to be Bigger Than Average This Summer

Scientists predict the Chesapeake Bay will have a larger than average ‘dead zone’ this summer, where oxygen levels in the water are so low fish and crabs will leave the area, if they can. Photo: Bay Journal

According to the Bay Journal, a year after experiencing its best water quality in decades, the Chesapeake Bay is expected to have a larger than average “dead zone” this summer, where fish, crabs and shellfish will struggle to breathe. Researchers with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) and the University of Michigan are forecasting that the volume of oxygen-starved water in the Bay will grow to 1.9 cubic miles, enough to nearly fill 3.2 million Olympic-sized swimming pools. A “dead zone” is a popular term for water that’s low in oxygen, or hypoxic. Fish often leave such areas; if they’re trapped — or immobile, like shellfish — they can suffocate.