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An area in the Gulf of Mexico off the mouth of the Mississippi River covering about 6,000 square miles where there is not enough oxygen to support fish and shellfish populations. The oxygen depletion is caused by an excessive amount of nutrients that are brought together from throughout the Mississippi River watershed. Many of these nutrients are believed to originate from agricultural activities, and the largest portion, over 30%, has been traced to the upper Mississippi drainage, according to research prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey.

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