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Don’t Eat Shellfish For The Time Being, Red Tide Detected In Sabah Waters

Don’t Eat Shellfish For The Time Being, Red Tide Detected In Sabah Waters

The Labuan Fisheries Department reminds the public not to eat shellfish from mainland Sabah as it could be exposed to red tide, a harmful algae bloom.

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Members of the public are warned to refrain from consuming shellfish from mainland Sabah with immediate effect for the time being.

The Labuan Fisheries Department director Faizal Ibrahim Suhaili said this is due to the red tide boom near Sepanggar waters on Saturday, 18 February.

As the Sabah Department of Fisheries (DoF) has issued a warning of red tide, this applies in Labuan as well, as Labuan waters is linked to Sabah waters.

Labuan Fisheries Department director Faizal Ibrahim Suhaili

Red tide is composed of harmful blooms or algae that could cause mass deaths to marine life, The Star reported. It could also lead to human intoxication or death.

Currently, red tide has been detected in Sutera Harbour, the Jesselton Jetty waters, Likas Bay, and Gaya Islands. The highest readings are near Sabah International Convention Centre.

Faizal advised the public not to consume molluscs (clams and oysters) taken from red tide waters as they stand to contain toxins that’ll cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP).

PSP can be life-threatening and it shows itself within two hours of consuming contaminated shellfish.

Symptoms of PSP include tingling, a burning sensation, numbness, drowsiness, and respiratory paralysis.

The red tide blooms can last for days, weeks or months but it’s also dependent on the wind conditions and water currents.

Sabah Department of Fisheries director Azhar Kassim said their Biosecurity Department found the pyrodinium bahamense and margalefidinium polykrikoides cells in one litre of samples exceeded dangerous levels.

In April 2015, there were two cases of PSP reported in Labuan involving two local fishermen from Kampung Sungai Miri due to the red tide phenomenon in the waters of the island.

What is red tide?

Red tide is named after the reddish colour that toxic plankton produces. Marine creatures that feed on the contaminated plankton had caused deaths in Sabah and in the early 1980s.

Some of these harmful algae blooms produce toxins that can kill marine life, contaminate shellfish, cause skin irritations, and even foul the air.

According to, red tide blooms grow in intensity, possibly due to nutrient-rich runoff from land or a warming climate.

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