In the Gulf of Mexico every year a ‘Dead Zone’ appears; an expanse of ocean where the water is so oxygen depleted that it is impossible for marine life to survive. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this year the ‘dead zone’ will probably be larger than ever previously recorded.
The ‘dead zone’ occurs because spring flooding along the Mississippi River carries nitrogen and phosphorous based fertilisers out to sea. These stimulate algae growth, which depletes oxygen levels in the water.
The NOAA estimates that this year an area of at least 8,500 square miles off the coast of Louisiana and Texas could by affected, compared with an area of 6,500 square miles last year. Scientists believe that the likely record area is caused by an increase in intensive agriculture in the region.