At least 25 sea turtles have washed up dead on Mississippi beaches over the past few days, according to multiple media reports. So far, there is no evidence that the oil spill killed the turtles, but tests are ongoing.
If it turns out that the sea turtles were affected by the spill, the oil could have harmed the reptiles in several different ways that may not be so easy to detect. A Duke University-led study, for example, found that contaminants may lead to changes in a sea turtle's immune system. Contaminants may also cause possible liver damage and lead to alterations in protein and carbohydrate regulation.
Other reptile experts report that hydrocarbons released by oil can trigger pneumonia, if these chemicals enter the lungs. Red blood cells could also be damaged.
But any number of other threats to sea turtles could have led to the deaths. I'm very interested to learn what the actual cause is and if more sea turtles have died. We're only seeing the bodies that wash up onshore.
Here is the latest AP video report. Please note that other dead sea turtles have since been documented.