Image Source: Flickr. By: Tifotter.

It’s been nearly 2 months since the Gulf Coast Oil Spill started. In that time, at least 783 birds, 353 turtles and 41 mammals have died. Unfortunately, the animal death toll may rapidly increase quite soon.

Many animals are fleeing their natural habitat and coming closer to shore, where waters are less polluted. Dolphins and sharks are being found in shallow waters along Florida’s beaches; crabs, fish and rays are crowding around an Alabama pier; and oil-covered birds are venturing deep into the marshes—most likely looking for a safe place to die.

Marine biologist, Larry Crowder, explained:

“A parallel would be: Why are the wildlife running to the edge of a forest on fire? There will be a lot of fish, sharks, and turtles trying to get out of this water they detect is not suitable.”

In other words, their usual habitat is severely polluted, which is pushing them to find more hospitable waters. Unfortunately, this only removes them from one danger and places them with another. Many of them are now closer to more predators and the oxygen they depend on won’t last; so, it’s very likely a mass die-off could happen at any point.

To find out more about this unfortunate situation, check out this article.