Spike in water toxins blamed for hundreds of turtle deaths

May 30, 2015 3:39 PM by News Staff

JAMESPORT, N.Y. (AP) - More than 200 lifeless small turtles have washed up in New York in the last month, a die-off scientists blame on biotoxins in the water that have reached unprecedented levels.

The diamondback terrapins have been found on the North Fork of Long Island. Examinations on some of them point to saxitoxin, a marine biotoxin produced in algae blooms. It is now at 10 times the normal level for reasons that aren't entirely clear.

Scientists say shellfish filter the toxins from the water. Turtles and other creatures that eat the shellfish can then become infected and paralyzed.

Experts believe the die-off during the breeding season could have serious consequences for the Long Island turtle population, perhaps taking decades to recover.

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