NOAA: Gulf 'dead zone' now the size of New Jersey

NOAA: Gulf 'dead zone' now the size of New Jersey

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Scientists say the "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico is now about the size of New Jersey - the largest it's ever been since mapping of the area began in 1985.

NOAA released the updated information Wednesday. The measured size is slightly larger than what NOAA originally forecast in June.

The size of the Gulf dead zone is typically around 5,309 square miles. High nutrient runoff, mostly from farming and wastewater treatment, stimulates an overgrowth of algae, which then decomposes into the water. The result is a broad area with low oxygen levels where most marine life can't survive.

A NOAA-funded study led by Duke University found the Gulf dead zone may slow shrimp growth, leading to fewer large shrimp. The study also found the price of small shrimp went down and the price of large shrimp increased, which led to short-term economic ripples in the Gulf brown shrimp fishery.

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