A dead zone the size of Connecticut is in the Gulf of Mexico and scientist claim it is a man-made phenomenon. The dead zone, which covers about 5,000 square miles is the second largest in the world today, according to MSN News on August 6.
They call it a dead zone because it contains no oxygen, or not enough to sustain life for the bottom dwelling fish and shrimp on the floor of the Gulf. This dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is caused by the excess nutrient runoff coming from the farms along the Mississippi River. This is an annual event when these nutrients are carried by the river that empties into the Gulf promoting this man-made dead zone, according to the Latin Post.
These nutrients themselves don’t deplete the oxygen, but the feed the algae growth, which consumes the oxygen, depleting it as it works its way to the bottom of the Gulf. The size of this dead zone is smaller than the size of Massachusetts, which is what it reached in size at least twice in previous years. That’s 8,200 square miles of a dead zone. While not that size today, the dead zone is growing, as are the ones around the globe today.
Currently 550 dead zones can be found worldwide, with the one in the Gulf the second biggest. The dead zone in the Baltic Sea around Finland is the biggest on the globe. The number of these dead zones have been increasing in years.
Gene Turner, a researcher at Louisiana State University’s Coastal Ecology Institute addressed the Gulf’s dead zone by saying:
"It's a poster child for how we are using and abusing our natural resources."
The biggest contributors to this nutrient runoff are the corn fields, which “lay bare most of the year and leach nutrients.” The dead zone in the Gulf usually “hugs the Louisiana coastline from the Mississippi River Delta to the state’s border with Texas," according to MSN.
The dead zone fluctuates each year, with some years finding this zone extending off the shores of Mississippi and Texas. Back in 2001 a federal task force formed to reduce the runoff of nutrients, but “it had no substantial success.”
According to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science dead zones are explained as:
“Regions of the ocean floor that are so deprived of oxygen that most marine life cannot survive.”