Holy Mackerel! What a sight!

Spotted this unusual report in the NST today.

JOHOR BARU: The shoals of fish seen leaping into the air at the Tebrau Straits overlooking Singapore are neither dolphins nor flying fish.
They are ordinary fish like mackerel, more commonly known as kembong, and other pelagic fish that sometimes leap out of the water to avoid predators, environmentalists here said.

But finding them leaping out of the Tebrau Straits is a rare phenomenon.
Jumping Fish in Tebrau Straits

It could be seen from Stulang Laut to Lido Beach which fronts a large portion of the Tebrau Straits.

Could the phenomenon be due to the increase in the pollution levels in the Tebrau Straits, which is noted for its high levels of lead, mercury and e-coli bacteria?
Ahmad Yusof, who has been fishing in the straits for the past 10 years, said this was the first time he was seeing such large numbers of fish leaping out of the waters.

“In the past, you could see just one or two fish jumping out of the water and only if they were attacked by a large predator fish. But now, the fish are leaping out by the dozens,” Ahmad said.

However, Malaysian Nature Society Johor branch bio-diversity researcher Vincent Chow, who had conducted several fish studies in the state, said one could hardly find large predator fish in the straits.

“It is possible that the water is warming up as a direct result of global warming, causing marine parasites to multiply faster than normal and attack the fish.”

Chow said there were many marine parasites like crustaceae, platyhelminthes (flatworms), microsporea, protozoa and bacteria that attack fish.

“And the normal response of the affected fish is to try to dislodge or shake off the parasites like the marine argulus, which is a crustacean.

“When these parasites attach themselves to the body of the fish, the discomfort causes them to dart about in an effort to dislodge the parasite.”

Chow said the fish would jump out of the water in haphazard directions, unlike their usual forward sprints to shake off the parasite.

Attempts to contact the Fisheries Department proved futile as a worker said its director was away at a meeting and all senior officers were unavailable for comment.


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