Langkawi hit by jellyfish boom

11/09/2010 03:55

LANGKAWI: Improper dumping of sewage and the disappearance of turtles has caused an explosion in the jellyfish population which is threatening tourism here.

In the first 21 days of July alone, 185 cases of jellyfish attacks on tourists and residents including fishermen were recorded and this is becoming a cause of concern to the Langkawi Development Authority (Lada).

The authority is seeking Malaysia Nature Society’s help to reduce the number of jellyfish.

Lada’s economic affairs assistant officer Shajiddeen Shaari said the best way to curb the number of jellyfish would be to prevent marine pollution.

However, he said they faced problems in increasing the number of turtles, which feed on jellyfish, because of pollution along the beaches.

Fishy problem: Bags containing jellyfish that were scooped from Pantai Cenang recently and (inset) a bucket containing jellyfish of an unknown species which are commonly found around Langkawi.

“Turtles mistake plastic bags for food as to they look like floating jellyfish to the turtles,” said Shajiddeen.

He said jellyfish are also reducing the fish population as they eat fish eggs.

Veteran nature guide Othman Ayeb said rising water temperatures due to pollution also contributed to the jellyfish boom.

He said that in the past, the jellyfish were usually found some 5km to 10km away from the shoreline.

“However, due to the improper management of sewage from resorts and hotels, the jellyfish started to breed along the shore,” he said.

Othman added that Pantai Cenang has the highest number of jellyfish because of the bad water quality.

“However, we have yet to ascertain the jellyfish species,” he said, adding that samples will be sent to Universiti Sains Malaysia for proper identification.



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