PETALING JAYA: A dead juvenile turtle was found in Pulau Tioman covered in oil suspected to be from the collision between a U.S. warship and a merchant vessel in the waters off Johor.
Reef Check Malaysia Programme manager Alvin Chelliah said the green turtle that washed ashore on Tuesday at Kampung Air Batang was completely covered in oil and is believed to have suffocated.
"It had been floating dead in the open sea in the oil slick," said Alvin, adding that the oil slicks were washed ashore as the island has been experiencing strong winds from the south west.
He said this was the third oil spill affecting Pulau Tioman this year.
Large patches of black oil were seen on the beach and tar balls - semi-solid clumps of oil - were seen drifting towards the island.
"We suspect the tar balls came from the ships," Alvin said.
Reef Check is currently with officials from the Department of Environment, Pahang Marine Park Department, Tioman Development Authority and the insurance companies representing the sunken ships collecting samples of the oil for verification.
In April, a group of divers on an excursion were covered in oil as they came in contact with tar balls while surfacing from a dive.
"We need to do something quickly to solve this recurring issue, especially the tar balls as they are found every year," Alvin said, adding that it was pertinent to identify the source of the oil.
Oil slicks had also affected other islands in the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, posing a danger to corals and other marine life.
In May, it was reported that oil dumped off the waters of Pulau Redang covered some 300 meters of shoreline with a layer of thick, black oil.