DEAD ZONE: Runoff from Midwest farms plagues GulfBy Perry Beeman Gannett, theNewsStar.com
3 November 2012
CHAUVIN — For shrimpers, crabbers and oystermen who work these waters, locating their harvest has become an increasingly taxing game of hide-and-seek.
Nitrates from the fertilizer and manure that Iowa’s farmers apply to their fields, mixed with sewage and runoff from suburban lawns, flow 800 miles down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico.
There, the potent blend feeds algae that bloom, die and decompose, robbing the Gulf’s waters of oxygen and creating a so-called dead zone — also known as hypoxia — each summer along Louisiana and Texas. Shellfish and other creatures capable of moving to more hospitable waters do so.
Those that can’t perish.