Redang Island – What’s Killing the Fish?

Redang Island, Teluk Dalam KecilRedang Island Teluk Dalam Besar

We visited Redang Island last month. Redang is a beautiful island off the east coast of Terengganu, close to the Perhentian Islands. It boasts pristine, uncrowded beaches and clear turquoise water.

The area is a protected marine park and is said to have the world’s most mature coral gardens. ¬†The island is home to the largest population of nesting green turtles in Peninsular Malaysia and we even saw one swimming up close to the beach one evening, a very rare occurrence these days.

There was virtually no litter on the beach or in the sea but there were quite a lot of dead fish floating around and washed up on the shore. When I say ‘a lot’ I’m talking dozens rather than thousands but still quite unusual. They included parrot fish and other exotic¬†tropical species like this colourful chap.

Dead Fish at RedangThere was no indication of what was causing these fatalities. Later I read a newspaper article reporting that this problem was affecting a large area off the east coast of Malaysia and may be due to toxic algae blooms caused by higher than normal sea temperatures. More evidence of climate change perhaps? Or a normal phenomenon triggered by El Nino?

Green turtles are herbivores and supposed to feed on algae. Perhaps there just aren’t enough turtles anymore to keep the algae blooms under control.