Photo credit: Reef Check Malaysia Facebook
PETALING JAYA: Oil was dumped in the waters of Pulau Redang tainting a stretch of its pristine, white beach with a layer of thick, black oil on Sunday.
Photos on Reef Check Malaysia's Facebook page showed black oil washing upon the shores of Long Beach and seeping into the sand.
According to Reef Check Malaysia's post, it is believed that used engine oil was dumped into the ocean.
"Someone put the oil in a black bag and dumped it into the sea. I cannot tell how much oil was spilt exactly, but I would estimate it to be around 15 to 20 litres," said Reef Check Malaysia Programme manager Alvin Chelliah when contacted Monday.
He added that one bag believed to have been carrying the oil was found.
However, oil spills like Sunday's is not an isolated event, as Reef Check Malaysia has come across similar situations in other islands.
"This is not a one-off incident. It has happened before not just in Redang Island, but in Tioman and Perhentian as well," said Alvin.
According to him, about 300m of shoreline was affected but there was immediate action taken to clean it up.
Dive shop and resort staff, tourists, and staff from the Marine Parks Department responded quickly to the situation, working together to clean up the oil spill in about one and a half hours.
Oil spills can have adverse effects on marine life and other animals who live along the shore.
"The issue with incidences like this is that firstly, it traps animals living on the shoreline.
"If you have thick oil spills during the night, then it would affect turtles coming to lay eggs. Birds along the shoreline looking for food will get oil stuck on their feathers, making them unable to fly," said Alvin.
He added that the sand along the beach itself would also be affected, harming the microorganisms living in the sand.
Freediving instructor Lee Boon Leong saw 30 to 40 people cleaning up the oil spill at about 5.30pm.
"I came out of the water after diving and saw many people from the resorts and dive shops cleaning up the oil," he said.
"They had tractors and plastics bags, and worked really fast to clean up the place," he added.
The Kuala Terengganu Department of Environment said they have received a report on the matter.