Don't look now, but the Gulf of Mexico's "dead zone" is the biggest yet. - Grist


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gulfing for air

Don’t look now, but the Gulf of Mexico’s “dead zone” is the biggest yet.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration broke news this week that the dead zone — an area of oxygen-deprived water where fish can’t survive — is the largest since it started measuring in 1985.


The dead zone results from years of nutrient pollution. Excess fertilizer from farms runs down streams and rivers into the Gulf, prompting algae bloom outbreaks that suck up oxygen in the water. Fish are then forced to flee or perish.

The New Jersey–sized dead patch is renewing discussion over whether state and federal governments should do more to regulate farm pollution. In the Chesapeake Bay, dead zone areas showed steady recovery after limits on nutrient pollution went into effect in 2010. While doing the same thing for the Gulf would cost billions, it’s still possible.