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.
There 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.