Threatened whale sharks seen in Gulf oil spill

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Whale sharks, the huge fish that feed by vacuuming the sea surface, have been seen in heavy oil a few miles from BP's spewing well in the Gulf of Mexico, a scientist says.

The University of Southern Mississippi researcher who's studied their migratory habits in the Gulf says the question now is how many are dying in the oil.

"Taking mouthfuls of thick oil is not conducive to them surviving," said Eric Hoffmayer of the USM Gulf Coast Research Lab.

Hoffmayer said 3 of the sharks were spotted within four miles well site on Monday. They migrate north in late spring from waters off Yucatan to feed off the mouth of the Mississippi River.

"That basically confirms our worst fear: these animals do not know to stay away from the oil," Hoffmayer said.

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