As predicted, at almost 8,000 square miles, this year’s dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is one of the biggest in history. The area off the Louisiana and Texas this year is the third-largest ever mapped.

A “dead zone” is caused by nitrogen runoff from fertilizer, which leads to a huge algae bloom. The algae sucks up all the available oxygen, leaving none for the fish. Crabs, eels and other sea creatures are being forced to swim on the surface in order to breathe.

According to CNN, “the dead zone was larger in 2002 and 2001, when it covered 8,500 and 8,006 square miles respectively, and was almost as big in 1999.”

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