07/02/2014 01:07 pm ET Updated Jul 02, 2014

The Disaster We've Wrought on the World's Oceans May Be Irrevocable

The 21st century’s algae can have adverse effects far beyond weird-colored water and a smell. The key problems come when plankton die. “The toxins released kill fish and other marine life,” says Garcés, “and then there’s the problem of hypoxia and dead zones.” As the algae blooms die out, the matter that drops from the blooms to the bottom of the ocean eats oxygen as it decomposes (with the help of the bacteria that feed on the dead plankton), and hypoxic (low oxygen) and anoxic (total depletion of oxygen) zones kill everything that needs oxygen to live.

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