Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 18 Issue 04

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Volume 18, No. 4
Pages 9 - 12


Coastal Dead Zones | Protecting Blue Gold | Golf Course Protects Tidal Creeks | Jellyfish Swarms | Native Lore Tells Tale

Cheryl Lyn Dybas
First Paragraph

Coastal Dead Zones

Past as prologue? It steals in by night on an east wind, this low-oxygen water that moves shoreward from the Gulf of Mexico into Mobile Bay, Alabama. Cries of "Jubilee!" carry along Mobile Bay's eastern shore, for ahead of this dead zone known to local citizens as a jubilee, bottom-dwelling fish and crabs sense the low oxygen levels and scuttle away to avoid suffocation. Some are trapped as the hypoxic, or low-oxygen, waters approach shore. Crabs, eels, flounders, and other marine creatures wash in like so much flotsam and jetsam. Fishers line docks and beaches, poised to grab this last line of life before the poisonous waters reach the shoreline.

Protecting Blue Gold

The "Tragedy of the Commons" brought to the fore by Garrett Hardin in his 1968 Science paper has found its way to the farthest reaches of our planet: the deep-sea floor. Vast genetic resources—"blue gold" in the ocean depths—need protection from commercial exploitation, warns a recently released report from the Japan-based United Nations University Institute for Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS).

Golf Course Protects Tidal Creeks

Ocean and beach. Sand and shells. Hilton Head, South Carolina, and golf courses. Where there's one, there's almost certainly the other. But the manicured greens of golf courses, an increasingly familiar sight in the United States and especially so in Hilton Head, often come at a price to the environment. Fertilizer applied to the greens, and to wastewater used for their irrigation, can increase levels of nutrients like nitrogen. These nutrients eventually flow into nearby waterways.

Jellyfish Swarms

Once a month, on the darkest nights near the new moon, otherworldly beings emerge from Pacific Ocean depths and drift onto the beaches of Hawaii. Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of these quivering masses of jelly float in with the night tide. Near shore, time grows short to complete their mission: to reproduce, leaving behind miniature versions of themselves fastened with a glue-like substance to reefs and rocks in the shallows.

Native Lore Tells Tale

From generation to generation in Su-matra and Sri Lanka the stories are passed, tales of floods and earth-shaking and devastation. The disastrous Indian Ocean tsunami in December 2004 added the latest story of nature's havoc to the lore of these island nations.


Dybas, C.L. 2005. Ripple marks—The story behind the story. Oceanography 18(4):9–12, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2005.17.

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