The Dead Zone

The Dead Zone

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On Again, Off Again — The Dead Zone: Hypoxia

DZ-graphics-coverFor the past few summers, newspapers have carried at least one story per year about the “Dead Zone” along Louisiana’s coast west of the Mississippi River in the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, the duration, number and size of dead zones throughout the world are increasing. Coastal waters are not actually ‘dead.’ They are hypoxic, meaning having a low level of oxygen. The term ‘dead zone’ refers to the risk of death for many organisms living in an area where pollution has caused a reduction in the oxygen level. What is hypoxia, what causes it, and how can people control or reduce it?

The Dead Zone: Hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico
Dead Zone Mapping Activity: Graphing Hypoxia

For the Teacher

There are several useful publications and websites that describe the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico (see: Dead Zone websites). For specific background on the phenomenon, see these sites and materials. The primary purpose of this package is to provide activities that address the dead zone for middle and high school students. The mapping activities use data that are available on the Internet at The data were collected during scientific cruises in the Gulf of Mexico in July 1993. Included in this package are: