The “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico has been measured to be about 6,334 square miles (16,405 square km), according to new findings from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
NOAA scientists measure the hypoxic zone in the Gulf every year. This year’s measurement is “equivalent to more than four million acres [1.6 million hectares] of habitat potentially unavailable to fish and bottom species,” according to an agency press release.
The average hypoxic zone over the past five years has been 5,380 square miles (13,934 square km), according to NOAA.
Scientists from Louisiana State University and the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium compiled the annual dead zone survey from July 25th to August 1st.
According to Nancy Rabalais, a professor at Louisiana State University and the principal investigator:
“The distribution of the low dissolved oxygen was unusual this summer. The area from the Mississippi River to the Atchafalaya River, which is usually larger than the area to the west of the Atchafalaya, was smaller. The area to the west of the Atchafalaya River was much larger. The low oxygen conditions were very close to shore with many observations showing an almost complete lack of oxygen.”
You can learn more at NOAA.gov.
(Featured image credit: NOAA)