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cover of May 30, 2015 issue

Cecile LeBlanc's Articles

  • Suffocating waters

    Take a deep breath and hold it for 30 seconds.

    Now you know what it’s like for fish in a coastal dead zone, a place where there’s little or no oxygen in the water, says Robert Diaz. He’s a researcher at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in Gloucester Point.

    You can catch your breath after 30 seconds. But in a dead zone animals can’t. So fish, crabs and other critters that enter a dead zone will quickly leave. Sea life that can’t swim away may suffocate. “This is how dead zones get their name,” Diaz explains.

    Since 1994, he and the World Resources Institute in Washington,D.C., have identified and mapped 479 dead zones around the world. That’s more than nine times as many as scientists knew about 50 years ago.

  • Tiny earthworms’ big impact

    Earthworms in a cup

    Earthworms have many fans. In 1881, Charles Darwin — the father of evolutionary theory — wrote a whole book on earthworms. In it, he concluded that “It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures.”

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