Dead Zone

FILE - In this July 13, 2019 file photo, Chris Nguyen and his father, Trung, look at the moving water that breached the top of a levee in Plaquemines Parish just south of New Orleans as Hurricane Barry makes landfall along the coast. Scientists are back from measuring the Gulf of Mexico “dead zone” where there’s too little oxygen to sustain marine life in a large underwater area starting at the sea floor. One big question is whether Hurricane Barry reduced the size from a predicted near-record 7,800 square miles. That June forecast was based on measurements of fertilizer and other nutrients carried by Midwestern floods to the Mississippi River. But tropical storms roil the water, mixing in oxygen. (Chris Granger/The Advocate via AP, File)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Scientists say this year's Gulf of Mexico "dead zone" is the eighth largest on record.

Every summer, a large underwater area with too little oxygen to sustain marine life forms off Louisiana.

Scientists had predicted a near-record 7,800 square miles (20,200 square kilometers) this year because of nitrogen and other nutrients carried by Midwestern flooding. However, this year's research cruise measured it at 6,950 square miles (18,000 square kilometers).

Scientists say the main reason is that waves from Hurricane Barry had mixed oxygen into the water.

The dead zone forms as the nutrients feed algae blooms, which die and then decompose on the sea floor. That uses up oxygen, starting at the bottom.

Hurricane Barry made landfall July 13 — 10 days before the measurement cruise began.

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