'Dead zones' predicted for Gulf, Chesapeake Bay

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Scientists are predicting a big summer "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico, while it will be smaller than average in the Chesapeake Bay.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released predictions Tuesday for the annual zones where nutrient runoff from major rivers depletes oxygen so marine life can't exist.

It says the Gulf zone prediction is 7,286 to 8,561 square miles — anywhere from the top 10 to the largest ever. A tropical storm shortly before that would reduce the size by stirring more oxygen into the area.

The size of the zone is expected to be smaller in the Bay, which is the nation's largest estuary.

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