Up to 300 Sharks Die in Panhandle, Cause a Mystery
Associated Press, October 18, 2000
Dead sharks have been washing up on beaches along the Gulf of Mexico and officials can't figure out why. "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 (1.5 meters) long, started showing up Monday in waters off the Florida Panhandle. 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."