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8:11 am
Tue August 5, 2014

Gulf Dead Zone Remains The Size of Connecticut

The area of low oxygen in the Gulf of Mexico, commonly known as the "Dead Zone," measured 5,052 square miles as of Aug. 1, 2014.
The area of low oxygen in the Gulf of Mexico, commonly known as the "Dead Zone," measured 5,052 square miles as of Aug. 1, 2014.
Credit Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium

A scientist who has studied the low-oxygen dead zone off the Louisiana coast for 30 years says it’s still about the size of Connecticut.

Nancy Rabalais of Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium says it covers just over 5,000 square miles.

That’s triple the goal set by federal officials for next year. 

“The average size is now three times larger than the goal," she said. "And the goal was to reach that size by 2015, and it’s 2014. So that should tell us something about progress.”  

Matt Rota of the Gulf Restoration Network says states along the Mississippi River are dragging their feet on reducing the dead zone.

It forms when nitrogen carried by the river feeds huge numbers of plankton. They die and fall to the bottom, where their decomposition uses up oxygen.

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