Dead zones
Earth's oceans are losing breath as the number of "dead zones" with zero oxygen is increasingCreative Commons

There is a massive dead zone in the Arabian Sea near the Gulf of Oman and it is growing in size by the year.

A new study conducted by the University of East Anglia (UEA) has confirmed that the Gulf of Oman is losing an alarming amount of Oxygen and it is losing it fast. The research was carried out using robotic divers called Seagliders, notes a release by the University.

Seagliders are about as big as a human diver, but can drop down to 1000 meters into the water and collect data for months. Machines were put to use in this research, notes the report because of the growing concerns of piracy and existing geopolitical tensions that prevail in that part of the world. Two gliders were put to work, collecting data for eight months under water, constantly in contact with satellites through which scientists were able to map the ocean for oxygen, covering thousands of kilometers worth of sea.

The data they collected was used to create a picture of not only how much oxygen was left in the sea, but also the extent to which oxygen was transported from region to region. In a spot where they actually expected to find oxygen, there was not only almost nothing left, it was also a massive area. The region, explains the report, is about as expansive as the nation of Scotland.

"Dead zones are areas devoid of oxygen. In the ocean, these are also known as 'oxygen minimum zones' and they are naturally occurring between 200 and 800 meters deep in some parts of the world, said Dr Bastien Queste from UEA's School of Environmental Sciences who also led the study.

"They are a disaster waiting to happen – made worse by climate change, as warmer waters hold less oxygen, and by fertilizer and sewage running off the land into the seas.

"The Arabian Sea is the largest and thickest dead zone in the world. But until now, no-one really knew how bad the situation was because piracy and conflicts in the area have made it too dangerous to collect data. We barely have any data collected for almost half a century because of how difficult it is to send ships there" he explained.

"Our research shows that the situation is actually worse than feared – and that the area of the dead zone is vast and growing. The ocean is suffocating."