BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Experts from the University of Maryland Center For Environmental Science predict a dead zone could form in the Chesapeake Bay this summer, potentially harming marine life.

A dead zone, a phenomenon caused by low or no oxygen in the water, can threaten the living environment for crabs, oysters and other marine life.

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“Animals needs oxygen in order to survive, so if we have a bad dead zone, we will have large swaths of land on the bottom of the Bay where animals could actually die,” said Beth McGee, the science director with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Experts said the problem was triggered by last fall’s record-setting rain. The runoff from upstream and even out-of-state pours excessive levels of nitrogen into they bay, fostering too much algae grown.

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That’s bad news for the bay.

Jeremy Testa, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland said everyone can do their part by picking up animal waste before it gets into the watershed.

“Do whatever you can to reduce the amount of nutrients that you contribute to the Chesapeake Bay,” he said. “This can include picking up after your dog or cat if they are using the facilities outside, being careful about when you fertilize around your lawn if you do and trying to do it at a time when you don’t expect rain to happen.”

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Experts said windy conditions could reduce the likelihood of a dead zone forming by mixing up the water and reducing the toxicity levels.

Ava-joye Burnett