LABUAN (Bernama): Thousands of rarely seen red jellyfish have been washed ashore the popular Mawilla Beach here since last week.
People might well wonder what exactly these strange-looking marine animals are, as the Labuan Fisheries Department has categorised their presence as a rare phenomenon.
And this leads to the next question: should the people be afraid of them?
Both the Fisheries Department and a marine expert from Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) said the jellyfish could cause skin irritation, allergy and discomfort.
Thus, the public is advised not to touch the beached jellyfish although they are dead.
The dead jellyfish were found on an estimated 400m stretch of the Mawilla coastline.
The phenomenon has been linked to strong winds and wave conditions, where the water currents in the South China Sea off Labuan are projecting southwards.
This in turn causes the jellyfish to be transported to the shallow waters near the beach.
The jellyfish have been tentatively identified by Associate Professor Dr B. A. Venmathi Maran of the Borneo Marine Research Institute of UMS as Crambione mastigophora (Cnidaria, Scyphozoa), whose common name is the "sea tomato".
"The species is not known to possess a sting that is dangerous to humans, but their tentacles can still sting after death.
"As the jellyfish are weak swimmers, this would cause them to be unable to resist the wave motion and are then washed ashore onto the beach, ” he told Bernama.
Labuan Fisheries Department director Faizal Ibrahim Suhaili, when met during the sampling taking on the beach, reminded the people to avoid getting into waters near where the jellyfish landed, as there might still be a school of jellyfish in the area. - Bernama
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