Gulf animal deaths confuse scientists

Some point to fishing industry

Scientists are trying to track down the cause of a growing mystery: Most of the animals that have turned up dead along the Gulf of Mexico since BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill don’t show visible signs of oil contamination, according to The New York Times.

The vast majority of animals found in the waters and studied by scientists since the spill in April—1,866 birds, 436 sea turtles, 59 dolphins and one sperm whale—are in this mysterious category.

Evidence is circulating about a possible culprit, and most of the turtle cases point toward shrimping and other commercial fishing. Other theories point to oil fumes, oiled food and the dispersants that are being used to break up the oil. Some theories point to disease.

The problem seems to be especially bad in Mississippi, where more than half the dead turtles have been found. Scientists will continue to study the dead animals in the months to come. The outcome of their studies will help determine how many millions BP will pay in penalties.