Thousands of rarely seen jellyfish beached in Labuan

Watch your step:thousands of ‘sea tomatoes’ have been washed ashore Mawilla Beach in Labuan.— Bernama

LABUAN: Thousands of rarely seen red jellyfish have been found washed ashore at the popular Mawilla Beach here since last week.The Labuan Fisheries Department has categorised their presence as a rare phenomenon.

Both the Fisheries Department and a marine expert from Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) said the jellyfish could cause skin irritation, allergy and discomfort.

The public is advised not to touch the beached jellyfish although they are dead.

The 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, causing 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 “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, it would be hard to fight the strong currents, which led to the marine animals being washed ashore, ” he said.

Labuan Fisheries Department director Faizal Ibrahim Suhaili, when met during 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 the jellyfish in the area. — Bernama

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