When she wasn’t analyzing air samples, HOUSTON CHRONICLE reporter Dina Cappiello was investigating another environmental crisis: the Dead Zone. It’s a giant swath of ocean in the Gulf of Mexico where oxygen drops so low that it is unable to support some marine life. The Dead Zone forms each summer due to the fertilizer and wastewater runoff that makes its way to the Gulf via North America’s rivers. The nutrient overload causes an excessive algae bloom — when the algae die and decompose, they use up all the oxygen in a particular area. All oxygen-breathing marine life in the zone must flee or die. The Dead Zone changes each year, but can be as large as the state of New Jersey. There are other dead zones around the world.

Cappiello spent a week aboard a research vessel with scientists on the hunt for the Dead Zone. <a data-cke-saved-href=” http://blogs.chron.com/deadzone/” href=” http://blogs.chron.com/deadzone/” “target=”_blank”>Read her blogs from the journey here.

Carrie Ching

Carrie Ching is an award-winning, independent multimedia journalist and producer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. For six years, she led digital storytelling projects at the Center for Investigative Reporting as senior multimedia producer. Her multimedia reports have been featured by NPR.org, The Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, Grist, Time.com, Fast Company, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, KQED, PBS NewsHour, Salon.com, Mother Jones, Public Radio International, Poynter, Columbia Journalism Review and many other publications. Her specialty is crafting digital narratives and exploring ways to use video, audio, photography, animation and interactive graphics to push the boundaries of storytelling on the Web, tablets and mobile. Her work has been honored with awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, Best of the West, the Online News Association, Scripps Howard, The Gracies, and was part of the entry in a Pulitzer-finalist project. Prior to her time at CIR she was a magazine and book editor, video journalist, newspaper reporter and TV comedy scriptwriter. She was on the 2010 Eddie Adams Workshop faculty as a multimedia producer working with MediaStorm to teach digital storytelling techniques to photojournalists. She completed a master’s degree in journalism at UC Berkeley in 2005.