PETALING JAYA: An unusual amount of sticky tar balls have been found washed up along the shores of the Lang Tengah beach, one of the country’s sea turtle breeding grounds.
It is situated between the iconic Perhentian and Redang islands.
Lang Tengah Turtle Watch co-founder Raphe van Zevenbergen said he noticed clumps of tar balls washing up ashore along the 15m-stretch beach and immediately lodged a report with the marine park authorities.
“So far, we have collected some 13 bags of tar balls. We are concerned that the tar might seep into the sand. We have also asked for help from the nearby resorts.
“They have been very obliging in cleaning their own sections of the beach as we all await assistance from the authorities,” he said.
Lang Tengah Island, which is just under three kilometres in length, is popularly known as Turtle Bay due to its known turtle nesting population, predominantly the green turtles.
Van Zevenbergen, who has worked on the island for three years and is a trained conservationist, said the tar balls might have come from the purging of oil from engines of big vessels near the island.
“The first couple of hours were spent racing against the encroaching sunlight as the tar simply melts into the sand once it heats up, making it impossible to retrieve without removing all the sand along with it.
“We are waiting for authorities to collect the tar balls and investigate the matter. We are worried that the tide might bring the tar balls towards Pulau Redang next,” he said.