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Front. Mar. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fmars.2018.00070

Hypoxia in Korean Coastal Waters: A Case Study of the Natural Jinhae Bay and Artificial Shihwa Bay

  • 1Marine Science, Incheon National University, South Korea
  • 2Research Institute of Basic Sciences, Incheon National University, South Korea
  • 3Korea Polar Research Institute, South Korea
  • 4National Institute of Fisheries Science (NIFS), South Korea

Several coastal regions in Korea have suffered from hypoxia since the 1970s. We present the first review of Korean coastal hypoxia, focusing on its spatiotemporal variation, controlling factors, and effects on marine ecosystems. The review considers the two hotspots of the natural Jinhae Bay (JB) and artificial Shihwa Bay (SB), which are referred to as “Korean dead zones.” The hypoxia in the JB is attributed to eutrophication due to domestic and land-used waste input and thermal stratification based on the naturally sluggish water circulation, whereas the hypoxia in the SB is due to eutrophication resulting from domestic, land-used, and industrial waste input and haline stratification as a consequence of the artificially created water stagnation. The bottom-water hypoxia and stratification has resulted in excessive accumulation of phosphate in both bays, leading to an imbalance in nitrogen:phosphorus ratio between surface and bottom waters. Hypoxia has also created undesirable benthic community changes in the both bays: (1) mass mortality of large species and recolonization with elevated abundances of opportunists in JB, and (2) decrease of the number of species, abundance, and diversity of benthic communities in SB. Therefore, it behooves us to pay attention to these environmental changes. This review will be helpful in determining the direction of future studies of Korean coastal hypoxia.

Keywords: coastal hypoxia, Eutrophication, Korean coast, Jinhae Bay, Shihwa Bay

Received: 21 Nov 2017; Accepted: 14 Feb 2018.

Edited by:

Youji Wang, Shanghai Ocean University, China

Reviewed by:

Arnaud Laurent, Dalhousie University, Canada
Arantza Iriarte, University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), Spain
Hongjie Wang, Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, United States  

Copyright: © 2018 Lee, Park, Lim, Yoon and Kim. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Il-Nam Kim, Incheon National University, Marine Science, 119 Academy-ro, Yeonsu-gu, Incheon, 406-772, South Korea, ilnamkim@utexas.edu