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Gulf Dead Zone Worries Fishing Industry Experts

By Evelina Burnett | Published 27 Jun 2013 10:16am | comments
Less oxygen dissolved in the water is often referred to as a “dead zone” (in red above) because most marine life either dies, or, if they are mobile such as fish, leave the area. (Credit: NOAA)

Scientists are predicting that this summer’s dead zone in the northern Gulf of Mexico will measure 8500 square miles – the size of New Jersey. 

A dead zone is an area where oxygen levels in the summer have fallen so low that fish, shrimp and other marine creatures can’t live there. The northern Gulf dead zone is located off the coast of Louisiana and Texas, but Biloxi charter boat captain Tom Becker, who has been working these waters for 28 years, says it has a big impact on the fishing industry Gulf-wide.

The northern Gulf dead zone may be outside of Mississippi’s waters, but what happens in one part of the gulf can have a ripple effect throughout the whole region, says Read Hendon, director of the University of Southern Mississippi Center for Fisheries Research & Development.

The size of the dead zone is based on how much fresh water from rivers pours into the gulf and the amount of nutrients, such as nitrogen, in the water. So rainy years, like this one, mean bigger dead zones. However, scientists say the gulf dead zone, which began to appear in the 1970s, has been consistently large over the past decade and is now the second largest manmade coastal dead zone in the world.

Learn more here:

NOAA Press Release on 2013 Dead Zone Prediction

Full 2013 Hypoxia Forecast Report

 

Images

Less oxygen dissolved in the water is often referred to as a “dead zone” (in red above) because most marine life either dies, or, if they are mobile such as fish, leave the area. (Credit: NOAA)


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