Every single year in the Gulf of Mexico and other parts of the world, there are areas of water called "dead zones", where there is major oxygen deprivation in the water.  How big will this year's dead zone be for the Gulf of Mexico?  Well it depends on who you ask.

Different scientists are saying different things this year about what will happen.  Experts from Louisiana and Michigan are estimating different predicted sizes of the dead zone this year.  One group says they believe from their data that this year's zone will be the smallest in twenty-five years covering  about 1,200 square miles, while another group is predicting that it will be five times larger than that.

So who is saying what? The larger estimate comes from scientists at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium in Cocodrie and Louisiana State University.  Their data suggests that the area where oxygen levels are too low to sustain life in the water will be closer to 6,210 square miles off Louisiana and Texas.

Thinking it will be much smaller are researchers at the University of Michigan.  They say they believe since the Mississippi River is carrying the smallest amount of nutrients in many years, the dead zone will likely be smaller. Fertilizer and other nutrients swept into the river cause the dead zone.