Sabah issues red tide alert

The Star, 7 Jan 2013

KOTA KINABALU: The deadly algae bloom, commonly known as the red tide phenomenon, will peak in the next two months statewide.

Sabah Fisheries Department director Rayner Stuel Galid said that red tide was recorded in November last year and will begin peaking between this month and February before tailing off by June.

“We are conducting daily tests and have found high toxicity in the west coast,” he said, adding that anything above 400 mouse units (MU) was considered dangerous.

Galid advised people to avoid eating oysters, mussels, cockles and any type of clam though other marine products like fish, prawns and crabs were safe for consumption.

He said the red tide has been seen in waters off Papar, Kota Kinabalu and Tuaran in the west coast while they have not received any reports in the east coast.

Two boys, aged 14 and nine, died from paralytic shellfish poisoning after consuming cockles on Jan 1.

The older boy died a day after eating the shellfish while the second boy died on Friday, according to Sabah Health Department director Dr Christina Rundi in a statement.

The boys had collected the cockles from the seafront at Sepanggar about 30km from here and were said to have eaten them raw.

Galid said clams, even when cooked, are still poisonous and should be avoided during the red tide season.

Red tide is a natural phenomenon whereby algae form large colonies which produce harmful effects to marine life. The density of the algae colours the surface of the sea red.

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Shellfish alert as red tide hits Sabah waters

The Star, 3 Jan 2013

KOTA KINABALU: People are warned against eating shellfish or bivalves obtained from the sea following a red tide alert in Sabah waters.

Sabah Fisheries Department director Rayner Stuel said these included oysters, mussels, cockles and any type of clam-like seafood.

“A year-long Red Tide Monitoring programme conducted by the department with the state Health Department has detected the presence of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins in samples of bivalves from waters off certain parts of Sabah’s west coast,” he said.

High densities of the PSP-causative organism was found in samples of sea water from Kuala Penyu, Kota Kinabalu, including Gaya Island, Sepanggar Bay and Likas Bay as well as in the Papar, Putatan, and Tuaran districts.

Rayner said the numbers became so large and dense that they released a brownish red colour to the sea at times.

The types of sea life considered safe to eat include all types of prawns and crabs, coral fish and predatory fish.

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