WRKF

Dead Zone

The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is predicted to be the second biggest in history, according to a new forecast from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON).

The dead zone is mostly caused by agricultural run-off from the Mississippi River; nutrients from fertilizers like nitrogen and phosphorus enter the water, causing algae to bloom once it slows and heats up in the Gulf of Mexico. When the algae decays, it uses up oxygen in the water which can stress and kill some sea creatures. The condition of reduced oxygen is known as hypoxia.

The Mississippi River has been at flood stage for months. Levees and spillways keep most homes and businesses safe and dry from the flood waters, but the high water still creates headaches for levee districts and industries like oil and gas, and fisheries.

This week on the Coastal News Roundup, WWNO coastal reporter Travis Lux went to find out how the river creates problems we can’t always see. WWNO’s Tegan Wendland got the details.

Every summer, a dead zone forms in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s an area with so little oxygen that marine life can’t survive, caused mostly by agricultural fertilizers that wash down the Mississippi River.

 

According to a new study from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON), it’s much smaller this year. But, that might not necessarily be a sign of progress.

LRN

Professor Nancy Rabalais of LSU's Energy, Coast and Environment Department talks about the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico and its impact on the environment.


The dead zone is an area in the Gulf of Mexico where the oxygen is so low that fish and shrimp can’t live.

 

Scientists say this year’s dead zone is 8,776 square miles now -- about the size of New Jersey. Over the last five years it’s averaged 5,543 square miles.

 

It’s caused largely by agricultural runoff from the Midwest, and brought downstream by the Mississippi River. That runoff is high in nitrates, from fertilizer, which causes algae to bloom. When the algae dies, it sucks oxygen out of the water.

Dolphins Aid with Gulf Conservation

Oct 9, 2015
Judy Palermo | The Indianapolis Zoo

The Dead Zone. It sounds ominous, mysterious.

 

“So it’s a phenomenon that, to my understanding, didn’t even really exist before the 1970s, but is an environmental response to high nutrient loads, primarily nitrogen and phosphorous,” says Seth Blitch, Coastal Program Manager for The Nature Conservancy in Louisiana.

 


Indianapolis Zoo

You wouldn’t think Indiana and Louisiana have much in common. But that hasn’t stopped the Indianapolis Zoo from developing a partnership with The Nature Conservancy in Louisiana. Their goal? To draw attention to the Gulf of Mexico’s Dead Zone.