Tourists shocked to see slaughter of sea creatures

PETALING JAYA: Divers and tourists vacationing on Mabul Island off Semporna received a rude shock when they witnessed several marine species being slaughtered by the shore.

Social media has been abuzz with several photos of more than a dozen manta rays being slaughtered in the shallow waters, drawing the ire of social media users.

The crystal clear water turned red as several men, believed to be fishermen from a nearby village, finned one of the giant rays just a few meters from the beach. The sea creatures, which were two manta rays, 13 devil rays and a shark, had been caught and transported to the shore.

Tourists and divers who were present at the scene took pictures of the slaughter and uploaded them on social media.

Sabah Shark Protection Association president Aderick Chong said many of the tourists were shocked as they did not expect to see such a gruesome act take place in plain sight.

"Tourists witnessed it and reported the incident to the tour operators. They are clearly in shock," he told theSun.

"Such action will only create a bad image to the visitors, especially those coming from abroad," he added.

Only whale sharks and sawfish have been gazetted as threatened species in Sabah under the Fisheries Act.

Although there was a proposal to include several other shark and ray species to be categorised as threatened, there have been no official announcements to date.

Chong said the new law to ban more species from being hunted in Sabah should have been passed by the end of last year.

"We are following closely with the government. This incident will be an opportunity for us to ask them on the status," he added.

He said divers coming to Mabul would usually pay a lot of money just to catch a glimpse of the sea creatures.

"Manta rays drew millions to the diving industry each year, but to the fishermen, it is just a mere few hundred ringgit," he said.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Masidi Manjun in a report had expressed his disappointment over the incident, stating that it was a slap to the state's tourism industry.