Autopsies are being done to confirm whether or not their deaths are linked to the oil spill. If it is determined that the oil spill is the cause of death in the turtles the oil could have harmed the turtles in many different ways. Experts say that contaminants, such as oil, can lead to changes in a sea turtles immune system. Contaminants can also cause liver damage and lead to changes in the turtle’s protein and carbohydrate regulation. Experts report that hydrocarbons released by oil can trigger pneumonia, if these chemicals enter the lungs. Red blood cells can also be damaged.
One particular sea turtle, the Kemp's Ridley turtles in the Gulf of Mexico are of particular concern in this disaster as they are listed on the Endangered Species List.