- In Focus
Oceans Are Losing Oxygen—and Becoming More Hostile to Life
Low-oxygen areas are expanding in deep waters, killing some creatures outright and changing how and where others live. It may get much worse.
Yet in more and more places around the world, these predators are sticking near the surface, rarely using their formidable power to plunge into the depths to chase prey.
The discovery of this behavioral quirk in fish built for diving offers some of the most tangible evidence of a disturbing trend: Warming temperatures are sucking oxygen out of waters even far out at sea, making enormous stretches of deep ocean hostile to marine life.
“Two hundred meters down, there is a freight train of low-oxygen water barreling toward the surface,” says William Gilly, a marine biologist with Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station, in Pacific Grove, California. Yet, “with all the ballyhoo about ocean issues, this one hasn’t gotten much attention.”