Red Tide Blooms Observed by GOCI

This past summer, the fishing industry in South Korea was severely damaged by large scale red tide Cochlodinium blooms that formed along the entire south and east coasts of Korea. The Korea Ocean Satellite Center (KOSC) of KIOST (Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology) continuously monitored and analysed satellite images from GOCI (Geostationary Ocean Color Imager) to determine the rates of transport and diffusion of the bloom. The analysis results were sent to government agencies and related organizations in an effort to mitigate the damage from the red tide bloom.

GOCI red-tide
Image from red tide analyses by GOCI at 12:16:43 KST on
13 August 2013.

This year, the red tide patches had low radiance values in the short wavelengths (i.e. GOCI Bands 1, 2, and 3, for the 400 – 500 nm range), and high radiance values at 680 nm due to the increased fluorescence and backscatter. For this reason, red tide patches can be detected using these spectral features. Small scale red tide blooms were first discovered on 13 July 2013 in the South Sea area and they gradually moved into the East Sea of Korea and expanded further north (up to about 39 °N) and then to the open sea near the East Sea of Korea. According to in situ data, the density of Cochlodinium reached ~7,000 cells per ml in the high concentration areas of the red tide blooms.

Source: IOCCG,

Red tide warning in Sabah west coast

Borneo Post, 13 Dec 2013

Samples of bivalves taken from Kuala Penyu District, particularly the Setompok Lake area, and from waters off Kota Kinabalu District, including Gaya Island, Sepanggar Bay (Kuala Menggatal included) and Likas Bay as well as Papar, Putatan and Tuaran districts have shown to contain toxic level of PSP toxins

Fisheries Department Director Rayner Stuel Galid

KOTA KINABALU: The Department of Fisheries yesterday advised the people across the state to refrain from consuming any type of shellfish or bivalves immediately following the detection of red tide in the west coast of Sabah.

In issuing the red tide warning, the department’s director Rayner Stuel Galid also advised the public to refrain from collecting shellfish and bivalves from the sea areas in the west coast with the intention to eat or sell them.

“If consumers do wish to eat bivalve shellfish, they are advised to make certain that these bivalves are not obtained from the waters off the west coast of Sabah,” he said.

The shellfish include oysters (tiram), mussels (kupang), cockles (kerang) and any type of clam-like food.

Rayner said the presence of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxins has been detected in samples of bivalves (kerang-kerangan) obtained from the sea in parts of the west coast of Sabah.

He said samples of bivalves taken from Kuala Penyu District, particularly the Setompok Lake area, and from waters off Kota Kinabalu District, including Gaya Island, Sepanggar Bay (Kuala Menggatal included) and Likas Bay as well as Papar, Putatan and Tuaran districts have shown to contain toxic level of PSP toxins.

The department also detected the presence of high densities of the PSP-causative organism, that is the dinoflagellate, Pyyrodinium bahamense var compressum, in samples of seawater taken from those affected areas.

Rayner said red tide occurances in Sabah in past years have revealed bivalves to be as toxic as 8000MU (Mouse Unit), where 400MU is considered the lowest limit as the dangerous level for humans.

Some of the shellfish samples taken to date have shown the levels to be as high as 4,010MU in Papar and 1270MU in Tuaran and is considered as very high.

“There is a high possibility that other adjoining districts will be affected (by the red tide) in the future. It is also expected that shellfish will become more toxic as these dinoflagellates become more numerous in the sea,” he said in a statement.

Rayner said safe to eat are all types of prawns and crabs including shovel-nosed lobsters, mantis shrimps, all types of coral fish and fish which are predatory such as sharks and sting rays, barracuda, tenggiri, jacks, etc, and deep sea fishes.

As a prudent measure, consumers are advised to throw away the guts and gills of any fish to be eaten and be washed properly.

Also, any type of dried, canned, bottled or salted fish products are safe to eat, he added.

The first PSP case in Sabah was recorded in 1976 where 202 people were reported to be suffering from PSP and seven died.

Since then, PSP occurances have been detected every few years off the west coast of Sabah.

Rayner said early symptoms of PSP include tingling of the lips and tongue which may begin within minutes of eating poisonus shellfish or may take an hour or two to develop.

Depending on the amount of toxin a person has ingested, symptoms may progress to a sensation of “pricking of pins and needles” of the skin and then loss of control of arms and legs, followed by difficulty in breathing. Some people have experienced a sense of floating or nausea.

If a person consumes enough poison, muscles of the chest and abdomen become paralysed. Death can result in as little as two hours, as muscles used for breathing become paralysed.

Rayner advised the public to get medical treatment immediately at the nearest hospital or clinic if they experience the symptoms.

“There is no medication available for PSP or Saxitoxin poisoning; in general, supportive measures are the basis of treatment for PSP and in severe cases, with the use of a mechanical respirator or oxygen,” he said.

The department is working closely with the Health Department and will conduct further sampling and testing of other fishes and life sea collected from other districts to determine if they are toxic and dangerous to human health, he said adding further information can be obtain from

Alert over red tide: Fish from Sabah banned

Borneo Post, 15 Dec 2012

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: In view of the growing concern of the red tide phenomenon in Sabah, the Department of Fisheries under the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources has temporarily slapped a ban on the importation of small fish from Sabah, Borneo Bulletin reported.

According to a press release issued by the Department of Fisheries, people are banned from importing the following fishes from Sabah; Tamban, Aur-Aur, Rumahan Bini, Rumahan Laki, Temanong, Selidai, Sanglar, Geronggong, Basong-Basong, Pusu, Kuasi and Termanong Bersurat, Molluscs, including oysters, cockles and mussels from Sabah are also banned.

The latest monitoring and laboratory analysis carried out by the Department of Fisheries yesterday has shown that the waters of Brunei Darussalam are now affected by red tide. The affected areas are Pelumpong and Pancang Hijau.

The Department of Fisheries of Sabah, meanwhile, through its media informed the public that some of the water areas of Sabah are affected by red tide, including Kuala Penyu, Pulau Gaya, Sepanggar Bay, Menggatal Bay, Likas Bay, Papar, Putatan and Tuaran districts.

As a precautionary measure, members of the public are reminded to remove the guts, gills and other internal organs of fish before cooking. The public should also refrain from eating small fish of which their gills, guts and internal organs cannot be removed and also Molluscan shellfish as well as fish from any of the affected areas or from unknown origins.

The Department of Fisheries will continue to monitor the red tide situation. In the meantime, the public, especially fishermen, can assist the department by reporting any water discolouration or mass fish mortality in the country’s water and beaches by calling 2770066, 8614867, 8878833, 8847846, 8787337 or 8675409.

Red tide still at worrying level – Fisheries Dept

Borneo Post, 18 Dec 2012

KOTA KINABALU: The incidence of red tide in Papar, Tuaran, Tasik Sitompok (Kuala Penyu) and here is still at a worrying level.

Fisheries Department senior officer (head of the quality division), Boniface Jintony told The Borneo Post yesterday that the concentration of toxic algal blooms remained high at the affected areas.

“The incident began late November this year and has remained high,” he said.

He added that when the situation returns to normal, the department would issue another reminder to tell consumers that the red tide incident is over.

“As of now, we are still monitoring the situation,” he said.

Boniface also explained that most fish were safe for consumption as long as their gills and intestines were removed.

“We are asking people to avoid eating the ‘slender rainbow sardine’ fish which is also known as Dussumleria sp or ‘ikan tamban’. It is unsafe to eat the fish species because they eat plankton. People should also avoid shells as they accumulate high toxin,” he said.

Commenting on some 300 trawlers moored at the KK market waterfront, he said: “They are moored there because they do not understand the situation.”

He added that the trawler operators could continue to catch and sell fish and were requested to avoid catching and selling the slender rainbow sardine fish as well as shells during the present period.

“They get confused each time we make an announcement of red-tide incidents,” he said.

Brunei waters still affected by red tide

Borneo Post, 13 Feb 2013

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: The Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, has announced that according to latest information on February 11, 2013 Brunei waters are still affected by the Red Tide phenomenon, Borneo Bulletin reported.

Thus the ban on catching fish and shellfish from the affected areas as well as collecting dead fish and shellfish from the Brunei waters will remain in force, it said in a press statement.

As a precautionary measure, the public has been reminded to completely remove the guts, gills and other internal organs of fish before cooking and to abstain from eating small fish whose gills, guts and internal organs cannot be removed as well as Molluscan shellfish and fish from affected areas and of unknown origin.

The statement further stated that the Department of Fisheries would continuously monitor the Red Tide situation and the public, fishermen in particular, can assist the department by reporting any discolouration or any mass fish mortality in our waters and beaches by calling 2770066 (during office hours), 8614867, 8878833 or 8787337

Two in Kudat die after eating poisonous sea cucumber

Borneo Post, 4 Feb 2013

KOTA KINABALU: Two men have died after eating a poisonous species of sea cucumber in Sabah’s northern Kudat district.

State Fisheries Department director Rayner Stuel Galid said the deaths were due to the consumption of a species of sea cucumber known locally as pelanduk laut and unrelated to the red tide poisoning.

“We tested the specimen and found that the sea cucumber has its own toxin,” he said.

The men, aged 51 and 54, died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital here on Thursday after they became ill from eating the sea cucumber during a meal with four other people at Kg Suangpai in Kudat.

It is learnt that the two men, who had suffered from severe vomiting, numbness and breathing difficulties, were initially treated at the Kudat Hospital on Wednesday before being transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital here.

Two others who took the same meal were also treated in Kudat but they had less severe symptoms.

The toxic sea cucumber, which has black and purple dots, is found in Kudat’s Marudu bay.

Two people have so far died from red tide poisoning in Sabah since it first occurred off its shores in November in a phenomenon that is expected to last until June.

The red tide phenomenon is triggered by a deadly algae bloom, which produces toxic or harmful effects to marine life and turns the water red.


Red Tide detected off Labuan

Daily Express, 3 Mar 2013

Labuan: Fisheries Director Zainudin b Hj. Abd. Wahab said Red Tide poisoning was detected in Labuan waters as of 11.40am Friday near Pulau Papan which is 600m from the island. He said the survey made by the Fisheries Department found the area enclosed by the Red Tide was about three to four hectares. Samples sent to the fisheries laboratory in Likas found that the Red Tide is of the Pyrodinium bahamense var. compressum kind with a very high concentration reaching 473,600 cells/liter and this is known as “Algae Bloom”. The level considered dangerous to humans is 5,000 cells/liter. Very high concentrations will cause Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) of the muscles that can cause death. The Department expects the Red Tide to last for about two weeks. Chances are the red tide will be swept away towards Pulau Daat, Menumbok, Sipitang and Lawas, he said.

The public, especially Labuan residents, are advised not to eat sea products such as snails, shells and fish, especially small pelagic fish like selayang/basung and fish kembong/rumahan during the red tide season. Fish caught outside of the three nautical miles (kembong and basung), should have their gills removed and the fish washed well before cooking. The department also noted that the “bubuk” shrimp season had started in waters adjacent to Tanjung Kubung up to UMS. It is recommended that fishermen do not take and consume them because of fears of being contaminated by the Red Tide, he said.

Source: Daily Express

Three more in hospital after eating mussels

The Star, 15 Feb 2013

KOTA KINABALU: Three more people were warded at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital here after consuming red tide-infected toxic mussels, bringing the number of victims to 46.

The health department expects more people who had bought the mussels at the Inanem night market here to come forward for treatment.

The red tide phenomenon claimed its third victim on Wednesday when a 23-year-old foreigner from Kampung Inanam Jaya died from suspected poisoning after consuming shellfish bought at the market.

The shellfish was said to have been sold at just RM1.50 per plastic bag.

Sabah health department director Dr Christina Rundi said: “We don’t know how many people actually consumed the clams but we advise those who ate them to seek treatment, whether or not they have symptoms.”

The initial symptoms include tingling lips and tongue, a sensation of “pins and needles” on the skin, followed by loss of control of arms and legs, and breathing difficulty.

The red tide warning was first issued by the Fisheries Department on Dec 12 last year.

The phenomenon is triggered by a deadly algae bloom, which produces toxic or harmful effects to marine life and turns the water red.


One dead, 17 hospitalised after eating ‘red tide’ mussels

The Star, 13 Feb 2013


KOTA KINABALU: A man died and 17 others were hospitalised after consuming mussels and bivalves infected with red tide toxins, in the most serious case of paralystic shellfish poisoning (PSP) this season.

Sabah Fisheries Department director Rayner Stuel Galid said his department received a report from the State Health Department about the latest incident.

The victims had all purchased cockles and bivalves from street peddlers at the Inanam market, Galid said in a statement on Wednesday.

He said the red tide warning was still in place and urged the public to avoid consuming all types of marine shellfish or bivalves.

These include sea oysters, mussels, cockles, bivalves and any type of clam-like seafood.

Beginning late November, the department detected a high amount of PSP toxins in samples of bivalves obtained from the west coast through its red tide monitoring programme.

In January, two teenagers died from consuming poisonous shellfish.

Among the initial symptoms include tingling lips and tongue, a sensation of the ‘pins and needles’ on the skin, followed by loss of control of arms and legs, and difficulty breathing that could result in death.


Many still eating clams from red tide-hit areas

The Star, 23 Jan 2013

KOTA KINABALU: Despite numerous warnings against the dreaded red tide off Sabah’s west coast, there are still people selling and consuming clams and other sea products from the area.

Two people have reportedly died due to poisoning caused by toxic clams while there have also been cases of mild poisoning in several areas.

Many sellers are claiming their clams come from the state’s safer east coast and, as such, are not infected by the harmful algal blooms.

These blooms, or HABs, occur when colonies of algae — ocean plants that live in the sea — grow out of control producing toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals and birds.

The human illnesses caused by HABs, though rare, can be debilitating or even fatal.

Some people here are said to have kept their clams in clean water for at least two days, believing the deadly algae would die, before consuming them.

Fisheries department quality assurance division head Bonyface Jintony said they were conducting operations to stop people from selling these clams, shellfish and other sea products.

“The department is working closely with the Health Ministry to monitor this problem.

“Action will be taken against those found selling shellfish or clams that put the public health at risk.

“People should be aware of the red tide as the department has already issued an alert,” said Bonyface, adding that the toxin in the clams would remain even if they were soaked in fresh water for several days.

He added that recent tests showed the cell algae per litre density was at 100,000 units.

“Anything above 7,000 cell algae per litre is considered critical,” said Bonyface.