An area of low oxygen water in the Gulf of Mexico just off the Louisiana coast where sea animals cannot live has grown in size. The Dead Zone as researchers have named it now encompasses an area similar in size to the land mass of Rhode Island and Connecticut combined. If you're not familiar with the land mass of those particular states, the area is about 17-thousand square kilometers.

Researchers with the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium have determined that the so called Dead Zone is larger that anticipated because of a larger than anticipated fresh water and nutrient run off from the Mississippi River.  Nancy Rabalais is Executive Director of the consortium and she explained how this year's area of concern is 28% larger than previous mappings of the Dead Zone.

I looked at the long term data and this is the 11th largest we've mapped in 30 years.

Rabalais' comments were published by the Louisiana Radio Network. She went on to say that this area of low oxygen water is just as much of an environmental concern as the other issues that have happened in the area in recent years.

It's something we should pay attention to just like other issues facing Louisiana like coastal land loss and effects of the BP oil spill.

Rabalais went on to explain that the only way to reduce the size of the Dead Zone in the Gulf was for farmers to reduce the amount of nutrients that are being released into rivers in streams. These nutrients eventually make their way into the Mississippi River. The river then carries these nutrients into the waters of the Gulf and that is where the problem escalates.