Pass Christian worried as dead animals wash ashore

By MARIA BURNHAM – Associated Press Writer


Gus Holliman has spent the last two days riding the beaches, hoping not to find dead animals.

On Saturday the sea turtles started washing up on shore. On Sunday, the turtles were joined by dead catfish, horseshoe crabs, and birds — a duck, a pelican and a seagull.

Before the April 20 rig explosion and oil started pouring into the Gulf, the city might see a small turtle wash up every six months — one that got caught in a net, or died from some natural cause, said Holliman, a Pass Christian patrol officer, who works the harbor.

“But we’ve never seen this many,” he says, shaking his head. “Something’s going on; we just don’t know what.”

The animals don’t appear to be coated in oil, but some of the turtles have damaged shells.

Though sea turtles can be seen out near the barrier islands, no one is sure where these dead ones are coming from.

The dead animals are being bagged and taken to the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, where scientists are trying to determine what caused their deaths. So far, there are no answers.

Aside from the dead animals, which residents here are viewing as an ominous sign of what’s to come, there isn’t much to do, but wait.

“We’re in a hurry up and wait situation with no answers,” said Adam Pace, 26, a local developer.

Pace says as a recreational fisherman, he’s periodically spotted the sea turtles, which are an endangered species — but that was a rare treat.

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