NEW ORLEANS — Scientists in Michigan and Louisiana are predicting a big summer “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico unless a tropical storm hits the area shortly before or during the annual measurement. In the Chesapeake Bay, scientists expect a smaller-than-average area where there’s too little oxygen to support fish, shellfish and other aquatic life.
The hypoxic zone in the Gulf is likely to be the largest since annual measurements began in 1985, covering 8,561 square miles – about the size of New Jersey, according to scientists from Louisiana State University and the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium.
University of Michigan scientists predict that it will be smaller but still sizeable: the seventh-largest ever, at 7,286 square miles. That would be about the area of Connecticut, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia combined, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which released those estimates and the one for the Chesapeake Bay on Tuesday.