For the first time in almost half a century, researchers have been able to confirm the great extent of the environmental disaster happening in the Arabian Sea. A new study published on Friday in Geophysical Research Letters revealed a growing "dead zone" in the Gulf of Oman almost the size of Scotland and which is nearly completely devoid of oxygen.
A team from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in England has searched the Gulf of Oman by way of underwater robots and discovered a vast oxygen-less dead zone that is not only larger than anyone expected, but also rapidly expanding.
"Our research shows that the situation is actually worse than feared – and that the area of dead zone is vast and growing," research leader Dr. Bastien Queste, from UEA's School of Environmental Sciences, said in a university news release.
"The ocean is suffocating," he revealed.
According to Queste, the Arabian Sea was already known as "the largest and thickest dead zone in the world." However, the extent of the situation remained unknown for almost 50 years due to piracy and geopolitical tensions, which had rendered the area inaccessible to scientific expeditions.
By working together with Sultan Qaboos University in Oman, the team managed to deploy two underwater robots in the Gulf of Oman for a period of eight months. The robots, known as Seagliders, detected a vast dead zone larger than the size of Scotland with almost no oxygen left.