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'Red Tide' Hits Bali's Western Shore

Thousands of Dead Fish Wash Ashore Near Tabanan Following 'Red Tide' Poisoning.

(2/3/2007) Thousands of dead fish have washed ashore along Bali's western coast near Tabanan during the last week of January 2007. The rotting fish carcasses, stretching 35 kilometers from Pantai Nyanyi to Pantai Selabih, have been analyzed by a team of experts drawn from the Department of Fisheries, the Department of Meteorology and scientists from two Universities in Bali.

Based on their findings, the sudden appearance of so many dead fish along the shore line is blamed on the effects of El Nino which has promoted the abundant growth of deadly plankton along the affected shores, precipitating the subsequent appearance of a deadly red tide.

Red Ride

According to IBP Wisnawa Manuaba, Head of Fisheries for Bali quoted in the Indonesia language Nusa Bali, the growth of plankton along the shoreline is initially beneficial, serving as a rich source of nutrition for sea life. In the latter stages of the process, however, the accumulation of great quantities of decomposing plankton along the shoreline changes the chemical composition of seawater resulting in an infamous red tide which is highly toxic to surrounding sea-life.

Bali has experienced fish kill-offs due to red tides in the past, with similar events recorded in 1994, 1998 and 2003.

In the latest outbreak, lesser quantities of dead fish have also washed ashore along Bali's famous Kuta Beach.

Local authorities are warning local villagers not to eat the dead fish, citing the possibility of toxic poising to animals and humans resulting from consumption.

In the worst affected areas near Kerambitan, local communities have organized themselves into teams to collect and bury them the dead fish.