Memorial crosses symbolizing what is lost due to the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and oil spill stand in the front yard of a house in Grand Isle, La., Tuesday, June 1, 2010.
-- Experts who assessed the Exxon Valdez disaster describe how the Gulf oil spill could affect birds, reptiles, shrimp, fish and other wildlife.
"An over 7,000-square-mile wildlife "dead zone" located in the center of the Gulf of Mexico has grown from being a curiosity to a colossus over the past two decades, according to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), and scientists are now concerned the recent oil spill and other emerging chemical threats could widen the zone even further.
The NWF describes the dead zone as being "the largest on record in the hemisphere in coastal waters and one of the biggest in the world."
During the summer months, it is nearly devoid of wildlife, save for the dead bodies of crabs, shrimp and other marine species that succumb to oxygen depletion in the polluted water.
Animal toxicology experts believe the Gulf dead zone is a man-made monstrosity.
"Outside of widespread impacts from oil release, the drainage of the Mississippi River into the Central Gulf has deposited massive amounts of agricultural chemicals and fertilizers from agricultural activities in the Central United States," Ron Kendall, director of The Institute of Environmental and Human Health, told Discovery News.
"Basically, this has created the large dead zone in the Central Gulf," added Kendall, who is chairman of Texas Tech's Department of Environmental Toxicology and was part of the assessment team for the Exxon Valdez." http://news.discovery.com/animals/gulf-dead-zone-oil-spill.html