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Jun 28, 2010 12:27 PM by Melissa Canone

Gulf Of Mexico "Dead Zone" Unusually Large This Year

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Researchers predict the Gulf of Mexico "dead
zone," an underwater area with little or no oxygen, will be
unusually large this year. But it's unknown how the oil spill will
affect it.
Government-funded scientists expect a zone measuring 6,500 to
7,800 square miles - about the size of New Jersey.
Over the past five years, it's averaged 6,000 square miles.
The prediction comes from measurements of nutrient flows in the
Mississippi River, which pours farm waste into the Gulf. Those
nutrients stimulate excessive growth of algae that is broken down
by oxygen-sucking bacteria.
University of Michigan ecologist Donald Scavia says the BP spill
could make the dead zone larger because microbes gobble oxygen when
consuming oil. But the effect could be offset if the oil limits
algae growth.

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