The Gulf of Mexico’s growing annual “Dead Zone” has hit over 3,300 square miles, even larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined — and researchers anticipate it could become even more massive. The research team at Texas A&M traveled over 1,400 miles mapping this huge lifeless area in the Gulf in June to discover the staggering number.
Researchers have previously followed the hypoxia occurring in this area off the coast of Louisiana for about 25 years and shows nitrogen levels in the Gulf related to human activities have tripled over the past half century. Even more recently, researchers have found that over the last five years, the dead zone has averaged about 5,800 square miles and is anticipated to hit 9,400 square miles this year — making it one of the largest ever recorded.
Hypoxia occurs when oxygen levels in seawater drop to dangerously low levels. Severe hypoxia can potentially harm marine life resulting in fish kills and creating a “dead zone” of life in that particular area. Human impact on the environment can cause these large dead zones similar to the massive algae bloom in the Baltic Sea.