GULF DISASTER

Sea Turtle Deaths Spike

One hundred and fifty-six of the 162 sea turtles that were beached in May along the Gulf Coast were dead, a spike from the monthly average of 47, though officials did not officially pinpoint blame on the oil spill. Officials said there were no visible signs of oil on the turtle carcasses, most of whom were juvenile Kemp's Ridleys, which have been on the endangered list since 1970, but they said a monitoring program is in place to track the effects of the spill on the wildlife. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the top priority right now has been birds drenched in oil found off the Gulf Coast.