CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS (KVEO-TV) — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts a record-size “dead zone” in the Gulf this summer, stretching from South Texas all the way to Alabama.
"Dead Zones", also known as hypoxia zones, are caused by nitrogen based fertilizer that washes off farm fields, in the Midwest corn belt, and into the Mississippi River which then flows into the Gulf.
The fertilizer will stimulate the growth of algae, which dies and decays, and causes oxygen to be removed from the water resulting in oxygen-depleted water where marine life can't live.
This year's "dead zone" is expected to be over 8,000 square miles along the Gulf coast and expected to affect the breeding grounds for fish, shrimp, oysters and crab, but not fish.
Last summer was one of the smallest "dead zones" on record due to the drought, but this year its the opposite.