‘Horrific’: Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone Now the Size of Connecticut

dead zone

dead zone(NaturalSociety) The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is mostly to blame for the dead zone’s growing size in the Gulf. Scientists now say that the dead zone is the size of Connecticut – a startling 5,052 square miles. The dead zone started forming, though, in our own backyards.

A joint NOAA-EPA statement announced that scientists supported by the agencies have mapped the oxygen-poor dead zone between July 27 and August 2, 2014. This is within the predicted area that was forecast of between 4,633 and 5,708 square miles based on NOAA models.

How do we contribute to the dead zone? Phosphorous and nitrogen fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals that we use to encourage plant growth wash into rivers and streams. Streams and rivers drain into the Mississippi River, and then flow into the Gulf of Mexico. The freshwater of the Mississippi then floats on top of the sea-water, keeping oxygen from the atmosphere from getting into the deeper sea waters.

Add to this the fact that BP never cleaned up their mess from 2010, even though both the company and the Feds were applauded for their ‘quick response.’ The oxygen deprivation caused by the spill is vast, with the Gulf’s coral community suffering especially.

“This study very clearly shows that multiple coral communities, up to 13.7 miles from the spill site and at depths over 5,905 feet, were impacted by the spill,” said Charles Fisher, co-author of the study and professor of biology at Penn State. “One of the keys to coral’s usefulness as an indicator species is that the coral skeleton retains evidence of damage long after the oil that originally caused the damage is gone.”

The ‘footprint’ of the 2010 oil spill involving the oil giant BP, TransOcean, which operated the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, and Halliburton, is likely much worse than anyone guessed. Of course BP wants to downplay the bad press, saying that, “PSU researchers ‘prematurely linked’ the oil found on the coral reefs to the 2010 oil spill, when it could have come from other sources including underwater landslides or natural oil and gas seeps.”

Solar and wind energy accompanied by organic food, anyone?