Gulf of Mexico “Dead Zone” Larger Than Ever and Growing

If you enjoy breathing as much as I do, this story should be cause for concern. 

Toxins spilling into the Gulf of Mexico from the swollen Mississippi are choking off the water’s oxygen at a record pace this spring, leaving a larger than ever oceanic “dead zone” of lifeless water. 

The toxins — primarily agricultural chemicals such as nitrogen fertilizers and pesticides, as well as automobile exhaust and sewage runoff – are killing tiny zoo- and phytoplankton (the little critters who supply about 70% of the earth’s oxygen), and driving away larger sea life.

According to a PBS report, this year’s dead zone, already “the largest ever,” is the size of the state of New Jersey and threatens further harm to the already distressed Gulf wildlife and economy:

Flooding could cause further injury to fisheries in the northern Gulf of Mexico, already reeling from last year’s oil spill, Rabalais said. Dead zones alter the habitat for crab, shrimp, fish and lobster, often forcing them to shallow areas. This includes catchable seafood, like shrimp and snapper, which are vital to the area’s fisheries.

Dead zones are not new to our world’s oceans and river basins, nor are they limited to the Gulf. NASA tracks dead zones in Chesapeake Bay, the Pacific Northwestern coast, the Baltic Sea (which has recently been dubbed “The Suffocating Sea”) and the Yangtzee River — just to name a few of the over 150 known areas of apoxia in the earth’s waters. In fact, dead zone occurences have doubled in the last decade as the earth’s population and the disposal of toxic wastes rise.

View an interactive map of the world’s dead zones developed by environmentalists at the World Resources Institute.


Related Stories:

“Like a Monster Coming Down the River”: Record Flooding Threatens Gulf Coast — Again

Dead Zone Increases in Oceans

The BP Drilling Disaster Timeline: One Year Later


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons (NASA public domain)


Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara4 months ago

I see this is quite an old article. Plus ca change.

Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara4 months ago


Dolores D.
De D5 years ago

This is so outrageous...I also wonder how long, and who, will clean up this mess

Vivianne Mosca-Clark

We all need to help with out planet getting better.
There are thousands of jobs out there helping to clean up environment.
Farming organically is the start for the farm up plastic will help provide jobs, for cleaning up the ocean from plastic garbage.... we need to stop coal for energy....Plant trees bushes and grasses and other smaller plants to bring back out forests. Watch how we use our water.
There are many ways we all can contribute to cleaning up and saving our planet. Our home.

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran5 years ago


Hartson Doak
Hartson Doak6 years ago

This should have been expected. With the massive amounts of water flushing out the Mississippi drainage area, these floods are cleaning the farm lands but moving the agricultural poisons into the Gulf.

Emma Davey
Emma D6 years ago

aaargh! nitrogen fertilizers, pesticides, automobile emissions, sewerage runoff - all preventable! surely we can do better...

Marcie J. N.
Marcie Perskin6 years ago

Its Been over a year since the B.P spill and Im amazed how fast we forget! Can you with good conscience fill up at a B.P. filling station? Apparently many people can. I hate them forever plus another forever, and when I pass one I make the sign of a cross ,as if Im shunning them , kind of like a Vampire, a disgusting creature that sucked all the life out of the Gulf of Mexico and left us with a dead and suffering ecosystem. They haven't paid anywhere near what they owe us===Lets balance our financial crisis and get the billions they owe us that is a very good place to start. They are currently trying to buy the land where the B.L.M is they are one of the reasons are wild horses are perishing ===they want to put an underground pipeline where our horses live, and destroy the horse population ==People wake up THE SKY IS FALLING!

Janine H.
Janine H6 years ago

This is a very sad story. Other animals and plants have to go only because "we" humans do not want to share the world with other life forms, these life forms "we" would not eat (vegetarian food is not a bad idea, or eating with conscience as the so called primitive cultures did and still do, if they still exist. No meat/fish every day). "We" destroy everything around us and "we" forget, that everything is important to survive, too.

As little child i thought that rain is when God and the angels cry - because "we" humans have forgotten that we need this "intelligence", someone who could help... if "we" hadn't turned away for many centuries ago...

"Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten." (Native American proverb)

"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers." (Martin Luther King)

Jerry t.
Jerold t6 years ago

How can 'we the people' sit around and let a handful of eco-misfits destroy our world? Shame, and a pox, on every one of us.
Accountability must be swift and effective. Our prisons are filled with pot heads while these snot heads parade about untouched. And all for the love of money.
God, and His Indigenous Peoples are right. Man's greedy ways lead to doom and destruction.
I'm going to bed, my soul hurts.