The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation confirmed last week that a 250-mile "dead zone" has formed near the Chandeleur Islands. The effect, known as hypoxia, occurs when dissolved oxygen in the water decreases to a point where it can't support life. The group found evidence a dead zone was forming in 2008, but when the group partnered with the Marine Research and Assistance Council earlier this year to conduct water-quality monitoring, they found a low dissolved oxygen area within 10 to 24 feet below the surface where the water is 23 percent saltier than shallow water. The groups presume the dead zone developed between May and July — which coincides with the BP oil disaster.
The groups will continue monitoring the area through 2011 to determine the environmental impact of the Chandeleur Sound dead zone. The next survey is planned this month. — Alex Woodward