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Spike in Dead Sea Turtles on Mississippi Beaches Concerns Scientists and Residents

By Rhonda Miller | Published 26 Mar 2012 06:47pm | comments
Charles Taylor of Bay Saint Louis saw four dead sea turtles in Waveland on his morning drive to work last week.

Dead sea turtles are washing up on beaches in Mississippi and Louisiana.  MPB’s Rhonda reports the spike in turtle deaths has scientists and residents concerned.

On the beach in Gulfport, Charles Taylor points west toward Waveland, where his usually pleasant morning drive to work a few days ago became suddenly unpleasant.

"My route out takes me along the beach, and as I looked out the window of the truck, I saw a dead sea turtle.  I kept on riding down a little further and I come across three more. It was just really sad because that was my birthday morning."

After living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for 16 years, Taylor says the dead turtles at seven in the morning really got to him.

"I have seen turtles and dolphins and every sort of creature that swims in that ocean since the BP disaster, but not in this amount, not this many at one time. This blew me away."

The spike in dead turtles is confirmed by Moby Solangi, director of Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport. Solangi says more than 20 dead turtles have washed up on Mississippi beaches just in the last week.

"These numbers can be misleading. The stranding season has just begun. It has been an unusually mild winter. And since these animals move with the temperature, so they’re probably moving in a little earlier than they normally did."

Spokeswoman for the fisheries division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration, Connie Barclay, says all possible causes of death will be examined, such as injury, disease and toxin, including oil.

"These numbers seem to be comparable to what we saw last year.  NOAA scientists are always concerned when we see sea turtles strand. So what we’re doing is we’re collecting the sea turtles and we’ll necropsy as many of those as we can to see if we can determine what has caused these strandings."

Barclay says, in the past two weeks, 25 dead turtles have washed up on Louisiana and 37 in Mississippi.

Last year, 122 dead turtles washed up in Louisiana and 280 washed up in Mississippi.



Charles Taylor of Bay Saint Louis saw four dead sea turtles in Waveland on his morning drive to work last week.



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