Flooding makes big 'dead zone' off Louisiana coast likely

Terrebonne Parish | Photo Source: WAFB
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (AP) - A federal scientist says the year's widespread flooding makes it likely that a big "dead zone" will form off Louisiana's coast this summer.

Steven Thur says preliminary runs of predictive models "indicate a large to very large year" for the area where there's too little oxygen to support marine life.

Thur is director of the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He spoke to the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force during a livestreamed public meeting Thursday in Baton Rouge.

The group coordinates work to cut the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus flowing into the Gulf. Those nutrients feed algae and plankton which die and fall to the bottom, where their decomposition uses up oxygen.

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