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Chesapeake Dead Zones Shrink Under Dry Conditions

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Dead zones are less than half the size they were at this time last year.
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Dead zones are less than half the size they were at this time last year.

The size of the low oxygen "dead zone" in the Chesapeake Bay is down, and dry weather is getting the credit.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources says testing last week found almost 12 percent of the bay had poor oxygen levels. That is nearly half of the long-term average for this time of year. The dead zone dropped from about thirty percent of the bay in July, which is usually when the zone peaks each year.

Dead zones are areas where there is too little oxygen for fish, crabs, and other creatures to survive. The recent dry weather has starved the bay of pollutants that fuel algae blooms, which suck up oxygen when they are broken down by bacteria.

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