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Marine Life Crowd Coastal Waters to Escape Gulf Oil June 18, 2010
Dolphins along Louisiana coast
Dolphins huddling near the coast of Louisiana as oil from the BP blowout disaster approaches.
Scientists studying the behavior of marine life along the oil-polluted Gulf of Mexico say the BP spill disaster appears to be causing sea creatures to crowd into shallow waters near shore.

The troubling phenomenon among dolphins, sharks, crabs and small fish could mean the animals’ normal habitats offshore have become so badly polluted that they were forced to flee.

“Their ability to avoid it may be limited in the long term, especially if ... oil continues to come in,” Duke University marine biologist Larry Crowder told the AP. “At some point they'll get trapped.”

Researchers say they believe large schools of fish swimming unusually near shore are there because the water is cleaner and more abundant in oxygen.

While fishing is prohibited along affected stretches of the Gulf, the huddled fish could fall victim to predators such as sharks and seabirds, according to marine experts.

There has already been an increased number of shark sightings near shore along the Gulf since other marine life began to crowd the shallow waters.

Photo: Greenpeace