Texas A&M oceanographer Steven DiMarco is refuting the statement by a Louisiana-based group of researchers that this summer's dead zone in the northern Gulf of Mexico was among the five largest ever measured, and that they'd never seen a more sizable oxygen-depleted area off the Texas coast, the Houston Chronicle reported Tuesday.
"I wouldn't say this year's dead zone off Texas was the largest ever," said DiMarco, after returning from his own survey along the Louisiana and Texas coasts of low-oxygen waters in which most sea life can't survive.
DiMarco says he does not believe this year's zone is worse than 2008, and prior to 2008 there simply aren't good records for hypoxia off Texas, he said.
Nancy Rabelais, the leader of the Louisiana group gathering the earlier measurements, said she had not seen DiMarco's data yet but disagrees with his conclusions.
Rabelais has surveyed the dead zone for a quarter century and has found it increasing in size over time.
The expansion into Texas is natural as the dead zone expands, she said.