NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Scientists from Louisiana and Michigan have very different predictions for the size of this year's "dead zone" of low-oxygen in the Gulf of Mexico. It will be the smallest in nearly a quarter century at just under 1,200 square miles - or five times that size.
The larger estimate came Thursday from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium in Cocodrie and LSU. They estimate the area where oxygen levels are too low to sustain life will cover about 6,210 square miles off Louisiana and Texas.
However, scientists at the University of Michigan say that since the Mississippi River is carrying the smallest amount of nutrients in 24 years, the dead zone will likely be smaller. Fertilizer and other nutrients swept into the river cause the dead zone.