NOAA, partners to report on annual Gulf of Mexico ‘dead zone’ monitoring cruise

High Mississippi River outflow and Hurricane Barry could influence final size
UPDATED: August 1, 2019. Updated names of speakers. Uploaded audio of news conference.
July 25, 2019
Scientists from LUMCON and NOAA  collect oxygen measurements to determine the size of the 2018 Gulf of Mexico dead zone, an area of low oxygen that can kill fish and marine life. This cruise has been performed since 1985, creating an important long term data set for scientists.

NOAA and its academic partners will report on their recent research cruise to measure the extent of the hypoxic or “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico during a media teleconference on Thursday, Aug. 1. Researchers will address how record-high outflow from the Mississippi River and Hurricane Barry might have influenced the final size of the hypoxia zone.  

In June, NOAA scientists had forecasted this summer’s dead zone – an area of low to no oxygen that can kill fish and other marine life – to be approximately 7,829 square miles. This measurement is a key metric used by the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force to determine progress toward meeting its nutrient reduction goals. The annual prediction is based on U.S. Geological Survey river flow and nutrient data.

The 2019 forecast is close to the record size of 8,776 square miles set in 2017 and larger than the 5-year average measured size of 5,770 square miles. 


Media teleconference on the final estimate of the size of the Gulf of Mexico dead zone, following up on the June forecast, and a Q&A session.


Thursday, Aug. 1 at 1:30 p.m. EDT 


  • Nancy Rabalais, Ph.D., research professor, Louisiana State University/Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium; chief scientist on survey cruise
  • Steve Thur, Ph.D., director, NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science; member, Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force
  • Bill Northey,  under secretary for farm production and conservation, U.S. Department of Agriculture; member, Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force


By phone:

1-888-324-9431  U.S./Canada (toll-free)

1-212-519-0847 International (toll)  

Passcode: HYPOXIA

Media contact
Brady Phillips, 240-533-0946
Jerry Slaff, 240-533-0935