Aug 2, 2010 11:21 AM by Melissa Canone
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Scientists say this year that the "dead
zone" area that forms every summer in the Gulf of Mexico is one of
the largest ever measured.
The large area of low oxygen that chokes marine life comes in
addition to the massive BP oil spill.
Microbes that eat the oil can deplete oxygen in the water. But
the researchers who measure the dead zone couldn't say there is a
connection between the spill and the dead zone's size.
They say the dead zone is roughly the size of Massachusetts, or
at least 7,722 square miles. The largest ever measured was just
over 8,000 square miles in 2001.
The dead zone forms every year when bacteria feeds on algae
blooms and uses up oxygen. The blooms are caused by the
nutrient-rich waters from rivers that carry farm and urban runoff
into the Gulf.