New Orleans, La. – The zone of deep water with low oxygen levels is blamed on nitrates flowing from agricultural areas along the Mississippi River. This year's so-called dead zone is still large, but not as massive as predicted by the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. Researcher Nancy Rabalais says the stormy weather stirred up the Gulf, disrupting low-oxygen water from settling on the Gulf floor. But Rabalais says she could see evidence during a recent cruise for water samples that problems exist in off Barataria Bay in southeast Louisiana.
"Some of that was visible as a huge volume to the east with low oxygen water reaching almost to the surface. And things that usually live in the sediment, like eels, were swimming up at the surface of the water. So there was definitely a lot of bad water at the bottom."
High river levels this year were forecast to create a dead zone up to 94-hundred square miles, about the size of Lake Erie. It's now predicted to be about 67-hundred square miles, or about the size of Connecticut.
For WWNO, I'm Eileen Fleming.