NOAA Predicts Dead Zone in Gulf of Mexico this Summer

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a record-size "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico this summer.

Researchers say the dead zone is caused when nitrogen-based fertilizer washes off farm fields and ends up in the Mississippi River, which flows into the Gulf. The end result is the death of many fish, and researchers in the Coastal Bend say it can affect recreational and commercial fishing.

"So if you have low-oxygen water or no water off the Texas Coast, and the fish can't survive there, then all the tourism begins to be affected," said Dr. Larry McKinney, director of the Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. "So we have a tremendous economic stake in what happens off the Mississippi River."

Experts say the only thing that would fix the situation sooner is a tropical storm or a hurricane to stir up the water and re-oxygenate the area.


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