Subj: Maritime Mystery: Hundreds of Sharks Found Dead
Date: 10/18/00 2:33:16 PM Pacific Daylight Time

Maritime Mystery: Hundreds of Sharks Found Dead

The Associated Press

PANAMA CITY, Fla., Oct. 18 — Hundreds of dead sharks have been washing
up on beaches along the Gulf of Mexico, and officials are baffled by
what's causing their deaths.

"We really have no idea," said Jack Mobley, a wildlife biologist at
Tyndall Air Force Base, where about 50 sharks, mostly blacktips, had
washed up. "There needs to be tests done before that can be determined."

The sharks, which ranged up to 5 feet long, started showing up Monday in
waters off the Florida Panhandle. Officials estimate between 200 and 300
sharks have died.

Signs of Infection

Traces of blood reported on nostrils and gills of some sharks suggests
an infection might be the culprit, said Mike Brim, an ecologist with the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Other theories include the lack of oxygen in shallow waters and dumping
of shark carcasses by fishermen who sell the prized fins for food. Red
tide, an algae bloom toxic to fish, was reported in the area last week,
but other species apparently have been unaffected.

"Why would these sharks be dead and the fish be alive?" helicopter pilot
Skip Franck said after flying over the bay. "When we flew over, it was
bubbling with fish.”