KOTA KINABALU: Many are staying away from the waters of the popular Tanjung Aru beach here following reports of a jellyfish infestation due to the current dry spell triggered by El Nino.
The beach, which usually draws large crowds on the weekends, has seen few people heading into the water recently. Most of those who turn up only have picnics by the shore.
Groups of picnickers can be observed along the beach, although only a few people wade in the shallow waters and even fewer swim in the sea.
Local picnicker Emanuel, who turned up with his two children, aged three and five, said he wanted his children to enjoy themselves at the beach but would not allow them into the water.
As of Jan 29, some 22 people have suffered jellyfish stings, according to Civil Defence lifeguards who gave immediate treatment to the victims. Some of them were sent to the hospital.
There have been no reports of any fatalities.
Following these incidents, the Sabah Fisheries Department’s experts from the Likas Fisheries Research Centre found two types of species – the chironomid box jellyfish (chorpsalmus quadrigatus), locally known as obor-obor api, and the catostylus townsendi species or obor-obor pasir – in the waters off Tanjung Aru beach.
Obor-obor api is known to be highly venomous and can cause severe skin irritation and affect the nervous sytem, among others, while obor-obor pasir can cause skin inflammation and swelling.
The department said the jellyfish season could persist till next month due to El Nino, which will likely end by late next month or early April.