Fears Mount Over Gulf of Mexico 'Dead Zone'

Only Dolly kept oxygen-free area from becoming largest ever
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2008 3:22 AM CDT
One positive effect of Hurricane Dolly was to churn the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, partially shrinking the hypoxic "dead zone."   (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
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(Newser) – Scientists are  increasingly concerned about the growing "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico, an oxygen-poor mass of water that cannot sustain most sea life, which now covers 8,000 square miles, nearly the largest ever. Created by fertilizer runoff from the Mississippi, the zone would be even bigger if not for the ocean-stirring power of Hurricane Dolly, reports the Washington Post.

The dead zone extends along the Louisiana and Texas coastlines, and every summer pushes fishermen farther into the Gulf. "I would think an area the size of Massachusetts where you can't catch any fish or shrimp, that's significant," said one of the researchers who took the zone's measurements. Another warned: "The longer you wait to reduce the nitrogen, the harder it is to reverse course. It's not good."