KUANTAN: After a downpour the night before, seaside residents and visitors woke up to a shocking sight – the sea off Pantai Batu Hitam was a bright red, a far cry from the day when it had idyllic blue waters.
Trader Anita Awang, 38, said the sea had been a murky shade of red since morning.
“My husband thought it was just sand stirred up, but when I ran my hand through it, the water was really red,” she said.
The Kuantan-native said it was the first time she had seen such a phenomenon, adding that the colour was even more evident during high tide, around 8am.
Keropok seller Esah Awang, 68, said Pantai Batu Hitam – which translates to Black Stone Beach – would often become muddy during the monsoon season.
“But this year is worse,” said the trader who had moved to nearby Beserah over 50 years ago.
She warned that it was dangerous to swim at the beach when the water turned colour, as it was very contaminated.
A check along the Beserah-Kuantan road that runs parallel to the sea painted a similar picture of pollution along the stretch.
By around 3pm, the red tide had receded, leaving the water a muddy brown instead.
Stop Bauxite Mining Movement (Geram) chairman Ali Akbar Othman said many residents had been posting photos of the red sea to the group's Facebook group page, prompting them to investigate the incident.
“This is exactly what we’ve been warning would happen,” said Ali, referring to the outcry against bauxite mining which has seen red effluent being washed into rivers and drains near here during the rainy season.
Bauxite mining has spread to the Beserah area, and a large number of transport lorries can be seen carrying the red soil to Kuantan Port in Gebeng, less than 15km from Pantai Batu Hitam.
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