Death by Suffocation in the Gulf of Mexico

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Science  10 Jul 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5374, pp. 190-192
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5374.190

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LAFITTE, LOUISIANA-- Scientists have traced the origins of a vast hypoxic, or oxygen-poor, region in the Gulf of Mexico to inland fertilizer use; now officials must decide what to do about it. Researchers first documented this periodic "dead zone" off the Mississippi's mouth in the early 1970s, but it wasn't until 1985 that they began to step up research efforts by taking oxygen readings at dozens of offshore stations. Now concern is rising that smaller oxygen-depleted regions off the U.S. coast could also grow. Because the gulf's is one of more than 50 similar oxygen-starved coastal regions worldwide, any steps taken to heal the gulf will be monitored intently across the globe.