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400 turtles found mysteriously dead off El Salvador coast

Leeanna McLean
Digital Reporter

Wednesday, November 8, 2017, 3:08 PM - Hundreds of endangered dead sea turtles have been found floating off El Salvador's Pacific coast under mysterious circumstances, with authorities unable to determine what caused their demise.

The country's environment ministry said in a news release that its officers found between 300 to 400 dead turtles floating in the water offshore from Jiquilisco Bay, some 115 km (71 miles) from the capital San Salvador.

According to officials, the turtles were found by local fishermen.

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A dead sea turtle is retrieved from the water in Bahia De Jiqulisco, Usulutan, off the Pacific coast of El Salvador November 3, 2017, in this still image take from social media. Image credit: El Salvador Environment Ministry via REUTERS

Laboratory tests will be carried out at the University of El Salvador (UES) to determine the cause of death.

In 2013, hundreds of sea turtles were found dead off El Salvador's coast. Authorities at the time ascertained cause of death to a toxic algae, consumed by the sea turtles.

NASA satellite imagery in the area shows chlorophyll levels are four times higher than normal in waters near the coastline die to heavy rainfall, the news release highlights.

Elevated chlorophyll levels is a sign of a possible red tide.

Red tide is a harmful algal bloom that depletes oxygen and releases toxins into the water. It is this process that kills fish and may also cause illness in humans. A rapid increase in algae at concentrations of 100 to 1,000 cells per millilitre turns sea water red, hence the term red tide.

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