A hypoxic water mass — one with extremely low oxygen levels suffocating sea life — forming on the Gulf of Mexico continental shelf is expected to grow to the size of Vermont this summer. The Gulf's "dead zone" (pictured in red) is expected to cover 10,089 square miles of the continental shelf off the Louisiana and Texas coasts, among the largest dead zones measured in more than 30 years, according to three June and July forecasts from scientists and researchers working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Matt Rota, senior policy director with the Gulf Restoration Network, called the forecast a "wake-up call" but is discouraged by recent environmental decisions from President Donald Trump's administration and how they could impact the Gulf Coast. "We should be strengthening efforts to reduce dead zone-causing nitrogen and phosphorus pollution ... not rolling back protections," Rota said in a statement.
Effects of Tropical Storm Cindy and other storms might limit the size of the dead zone to 70 percent of its predicted area.