Thursday June 20, 2024


NOAA scientists are predicting the Gulf of Mexico’s fish-killing dead zone will be larger than average this summer.

The dead zone is a hypoxic area roughly the size of the U.S. state of Connecticut with low oxygen levels that can kill off tens of thousands of fish. Caused by excess nutrient pollution from human activity along the Mississippi-Atchafalaya watershed, the dead zone affects fish every summer.

“Reducing the impact of hypoxic events and lessening the occurrence and intensity of future dead zones continues to be a NOAA priority,” National Ocean Service Assistant Administrator Nicole LeBoeuf said. “These forecasts are designed to provide crucial data to scientists, coastal managers, and communities and are used as guideposts in the development of planning actions.”

With higher river discharge and phosphate levels pouring into the Gulf of Mexico this year, experts have forecast it will cover a slightly larger area than normal. The average dead zone is roughly 5,205 square miles; this year’s dead zone is predicted to reach 5,827 square miles.

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