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Gulf oil spill: 23 dead sea turtles wash ashore in Mississippi

May 3, 2010 | 10:03 am
The carcasses of 23 sea turtles have been found along Mississippi's 70 miles of coastline, and have been retrieved for examination by the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, said Moby Solangi, the group’s president and executive director.
Turtle-blog

The carcasses were placed in garbage bags that were stacking up in the institute’s necropsy lab refrigerator unit. 

Although this is the time of year when dead turtles are often found on the beach, scientists say the number is more than double what they would expect. Necropsies will be conducted Monday afternoon by a team of four veterinarians. It’s unclear whether the deaths are related to the oil spill, which is still offshore. 

“This is the stranding season for sea turtles, but the numbers we are seeing are unusually high. It could be the result of heightened awareness and reporting, but they may also have been affected by the slick and floated this way,” Solangi said.

All of the turtles that have washed ashore are threatened and endangered species, and include loggerhead, Kemp's ridley and green sea turtles.

The institute was stocking up on medications, antibiotics and detergents in preparation for what Solangi said could be an overwhelming demand for services.

The institute is the only facility designed to receive and rehabilitate stricken sea turtles and marine mammals along the Mississippi and Alabama coastlines.

A similar rash of dead sea turtles has been reported in Texas, according to the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, on the Alabama coastline, volunteers were cleaning trash from beaches in preparation for possible oil spill cleanup efforts.

-- Louis Sahagun

Caption: Megan Broadway picks up a dead turtle. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

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