A dead zone, nearly record breaking in size, could form in the Gulf of Mexico this summer, researchers announced on Monday.
Thought to be responsible is the unusually high Spring rainfall across the US Midwest that caused fertilizer runoff into the Mississippi River Basin and out into the Gulf. The nutrients in the fertilizers feed algae blooms that then die, decompose and deplete oxygen from the water.
Dead zones choke out the environment of the ocean and threaten the local marine life.
Researchers at Louisiana State University think the dead zone area could spread to 8,717 square miles (20,577 square km). The 5-year average of the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is well under 6,000 square miles.