Where is the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico?
The zone occurs between the inner and mid-continental shelf in the northern Gulf of Mexico, beginning at the Mississippi River delta and extending westward to the upper Texas coast. The Gulf of Mexico dead zone varies in size annually, but may extend from the Louisiana /Alabama coast to the westernmost Texas coast.
What are the effects of the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico?
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, estimates that the dead zone costs U.S. seafood and tourism industries $82 million a year. The impact could be devastating to the Gulf’s seafood industry, which accounts for more than 40 percent of the nation’s seafood.
What is the Gulf of Mexico dead zone and when does it happen?
This lack of oxygen creates the Dead Zone in bottom waters on the Texas-Louisiana shelf throughout warm summer months. This occurs when there are fewer storms and strong winds to mix the warm, oxygenated surface waters and the cooler, deeper waters.
How does a dead zone form?
Dead zones occur because of a process called eutrophication, which happens when a body of water gets too many nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen. At normal levels, these nutrients feed the growth of an organism called cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae.
Can you swim in the Gulf of Mexico?
“There are absolutely safe places to swim , which are the front Gulf beaches. That’s where 90 percent of the people are,” DePaola said, referring to the beaches east of Fort Morgan, including Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Pensacola and along the Panhandle of Florida.
What year was the largest dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico?
Bottom line: A large dead zone formed in the Gulf of Mexico during the summer of 2019. The size of the dead zone was smaller than expected because of Hurricane Barry, but it was estimated to be the 8th largest on record.
What causes dead zone in Gulf of Mexico?
The annually recurring Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone is primarily caused by excess nutrient pollution from human activities, such as urbanization and agriculture, occurring throughout the Mississippi River watershed. Considered one of the world’s largest, the Gulf of Mexico dead zone occurs every summer.
Who is responsible for the Gulf of Mexico dead zone?
Foul Waters The primary culprit responsible for the growing size of the dead zone is an increasing supply of nitrogen dumped into the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi River. Nitrogen levels discharged from the river have nearly tripled since the 1950s, with an annual average since 1980 of 1.6 million metric tons.
Is the Gulf of Mexico still polluted?
A decade after the BP oil spill: Sick fish, Gulf pollution , and human health problems. The BP oil continues polluting the gulf even today, according to recently released findings by scientists from the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Sciences. It’s still affecting fish and other marine species.
Where is the largest dead zone?
Gulf of Mexico
What organisms live at the bottom of the Gulf?
The Gulf of Mexico is home to thousands of different species including fish, mammals, turtles, plants, and more. Sea plants include seagrasses, marine algae , mangroves, and marsh grass. They provide habitats for countless creatures including fish, shrimp, bivalves, plankton, and other marine animals.
How do dead zones affect humans?
When the algae eventually dies, the oxygen in the water is consumed. Elevated nutrient levels and algal blooms can also cause problems in drinking water in communities nearby and upstream from dead zones . Harmful algal blooms release toxins that contaminate drinking water, causing illnesses for animals and humans .
Can a dead zone be reversed?
So-called dead zones are areas of large bodies of water—typically in the ocean but also occasionally in lakes and even rivers—that do not have enough oxygen to support marine life. Fortunately, dead zones are reversible if their causes are reduced or eliminated.
How much of the ocean is a dead zone?
A 2008 study found more than 400 dead zones exist worldwide—anywhere excess nutrients travel downstream and into a body of water. (Read about a large dead zone in the Baltic Sea .) The largest dead zone in the world lies in the Arabian Sea , covering almost the entire 63,700-square mile Gulf of Oman.
How can we fix ocean dead zones?
Voluntarily stop fertilizer and waste runoff into lakes, rivers, and streams. Enact laws to prevent fertilizer and waste runoff from entering the Mississippi River basin. Build water treatment plants to prevent human and animal waste from entering our waters.