GEORGE TOWN: The seawater in Penang has turned pink again.
Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies (Cemacs) deputy director Dr Annette Jaya Ram spotted the pink tide in Teluk Bahang around 11am on Sunday (Aug 27) while walking at the National Park.
"When I was walking along the trail, I glanced over at the beach and it was visible enough to see from where I was standing.
"It was close to the coast and large enough to be visible.
"We cannot predict when it occurs but it does happen off and on.
"It depends on the weather and recently, it rained and now since the rain has stopped, the algae has appeared.
"When it rains you get nutrients that enter the sea.
"Algae or plankton thrive on it and that is when you get to see it bloom like this," she said.
In April this year, The Star reported that the sea around Penang was assailed by thick streaks of pink algae blooms.
Scientists said the algae is Noctiluca scintillans, and it is non-toxic beyond having an ammonia content that might drive some fish away. It is also not a threat to marine life.
Dr Annette said it was the same pink algae.
"We did preliminary testing and this particular organism has high content of ammonia.
"Fish will not like it as it is not natural to them and they try to get away from it," she said.
She does not think it will last long as it usually appears in a day or two.
The pink tide is not harmful to humans, and that fish caught around Penang is still safe to eat.
It starts with prolonged hot weather, followed by sudden substantial rainfall which sends nutrients pouring into the sea.