Black Spots Blot German Coastal Flats

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Science  05 Jul 1996:
Vol. 273, Issue 5271, pp. 25
DOI: 10.1126/science.273.5271.25a


Berlin—Since last May, German naturalists have become increasingly concerned about an outbreak of foul-smelling “black spots” of dead organic matter on the sandy tidal flats along Germany's North Sea coast, now covering more than 25 square kilometers—about one-tenth of the sand flats' surface area between Wilhelmshaven and the Dutch border. Last month, German scientists met with their Dutch and Danish counterparts to determine the causes of the outbreak. Although extensive blooms of phytoplankton, fed by nutrients from polluted rivers, and last winter's harsh weather have been fingered as suspects, the researchers identified no easy solutions to the problem.