Dozens of dead sea turtles found along Mississippi Gulf Coast
GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX/Gray News) - Dozens of dead sea turtles have washed ashore on parts of the Gulf Coast, according to the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies.
While stranding experts say it’s normal to find carcasses this time of year, the number is reportedly higher than usual.
Since April 1, 34 have been reported along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, WLOX reports.
“Once we receive a report about a stranded sea turtle, we mobilize our team here and we go out,” Institute for Marine Mammal Studies stranding coordinator Theresa Madrigal said. “What we do is collect photographs and basic data on the animal. We are looking at the scene basically like a crime scene.”
Madrigal says the number is above average for a single week. Each stranding season, the institute finds approximately 60 carcasses between February and the end of summer.
“There’s a lot of potentials that could be causing that, in particular, the winds,” Madrigal said. “The winds have been pretty high the last few days in the direction to push carcasses on shore.”
IMMS identified the majority of the turtles as Kemp’s ridley sea turtles.
“They are the most endangered species in the world,” Madrigal said. “They are native only to the Gulf of Mexico. They have a very small nesting range. Across all species of sea turtles, the estimation is only 1 in 1,000 hatchlings will make it to be an adult to reproduce”
Throughout the next few weeks, IMMS will work with state and federal partners to conduct what are called necropsies.
“Those are basically animal autopsies where we will look internally at the animals, all their organs and everything as well as collecting samples to be sent off for histopathology testing,” Madrigal said.
IMMS does not have a time estimate as to when they will know the cause of the deaths. Testing will continue for a few more weeks and possibly expand to months depending on the findings.
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