Certain Florida cities and towns – which at one time had bustled with tourists – have now fallen eerily silent. The locals know why; they’ve gone down to the coast and they’ve seen it firsthand. Their eyes water, and they cough as they look out at the beach, choked up with the scent of dead fish that have washed ashore.

Floridians wouldn’t just find fish on their picturesque beaches, either. Indeed, the entire ecosystem was in danger. Numerous manatees, sea turtles and dolphins had also washed ashore. At some point, a whale shark measuring up at 26 foot in length lost its life, too. And as scientists pored through evidence, they knew exactly what had caused these creatures to die.

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