During the last week of May, thousands of fish carcasses were found washed up along several beaches in Penang, raising concerns about the cause of their deaths.
According to The Star, the Penang Fisheries Department assured that this is “not a sign of an impending disaster”, but a natural phenomenon that occurs annually.
The fish – consisting of red snappers and trevaillies – were from nearby fish farms that had died due to a sudden bloom of algae in the water.
Director of the Penang Fisheries Department, Noraisyah Abu Bakar said that they had also received reports of fishes dying in stages in Kuala Kurau, Kuala Gula and Tanjung Piandang in Perak. Now, the red tide is reported to be heading to Kedah, according to The Star.
“According to the Fisheries Research Institute (FRI), the high presence of Cochlodinum algae in the water which occurs annually worldwide is the cause as they are toxic to various fish and shellfish. However, it does not affect humans, ” she said.
“The algae bloom reduces oxygen in the water, causing the fish to surface and eventually die.”
She then added that the fish in the wild are not affected as they are able to escape and that fisherman are still reporting good catches at sea.
Photos and videos of the dead fishes along the shores in Teluk Kumbar and other beaches in the vicinity led people to speculate that a tsunami had happened while others questioned if it was due to pollution.
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