Fish and marine life in more than a third of the coastal areas in the U.S. are being killed by algae blooms caused by agricultural fertilizer runoff, according to a study released yesterday by a research arm of the National Academy of Sciences. Almost all of the nation’s estuaries have been environmentally damaged to some extent by the nitrogen and phosphorus runoff, which can travel hundreds of miles downstream from farms. “Excess nitrogen in our coastal waters starts a dangerous chain of ecological events that is exacerbating harmful algae blooms such as red tides, contaminating shellfish, killing coastal wildlife, reducing biodiversity, destroying sea grass, and contributing to a host of other environmental problems,” said study leader Robert Howarth, a Cornell University professor.