Gulf dead zone likely to be more gigantic than ever
The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico may be vaster than ever this year, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists predicted Tuesday. Thanks in large part to recent Midwest flooding, the oxygen-starved zone — caused when fertilizer runoff from upstream ag spurs growth of algae that suck oxygen as they decompose — could measure 8,800 square miles, or about the size of New Jersey. The current dead-zone record holder is the 2002 zone, which was 8,481 square miles. The Gulf zone gets its “dead” moniker because it cannot support most marine life, and thus poses a great threat to the second-largest fishing industry in the country and the nation’s biggest single source of shrimp and oysters — not to mention general fishy happiness.