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Researchers predict smaller ‘dead zone’ in Chesapeake Bay this year

Researchers are predicting a slightly smaller-than-average oxygen dead zone in the Chesapeake Bay this year.

One of the main reasons why is because there was less rainfall washing pollution off of farms and cities and into the nation's largest estuary.

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The forecast was released Wednesday by researchers from the University of Michigan, the University of Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay Program.

The so-called dead zones are created when nitrogen pollution fuels an overgrowth of algae that eats up much of the water's oxygen.

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Swaths of water that have little or no oxygen cannot support wildlife in the bay’s vast ecosystem, which includes crabs, oysters and various species of fish.

The pollution often comes from farm manure and sewage treatment plants.

Researchers said low-oxygen areas in the bay are expected to be about 9% smaller this based on a 34-year average. Areas with no oxygen are expected to be 4% lower than average.

The researchers were quick to point out that the bay’s dead zone is still loo large and reflects the continued need to reduce pollution flowing into the bay.

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