Skip to navigationSkip to content
Reuters/Hugh Gentry
Sleeping with the fishes.

A mass die-off of sea creatures is taking place off the coast of Singapore

Swathes of dead sea creatures—including pufferfish, sea horses, squid, and eel—have been washing up on the shores of Singapore over the past few weeks.

Last year, farms also reported mass fish deaths, caused by hot weather and a plankton bloom that clogged fish gills. Scientists say that this time is also likely attributed to a species of algae, Gymnodinium mikimot which is not toxic to humans but can kill sea creatures.

A local biology student has been posting photos of what he calls a “friggin mass grave” on the eastern part of Singapore, along the Johor Strait between Malaysia and Singapore—you can see his photos here. “We woke up and saw all the fish floating belly-up,” a local fish farmer told the BBC. “It’s devastating.”

Others are reporting dead fish floating in the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve along Singapore’s northern shore. (Images courtesy of Ria Tan, who runs the blog Wild Shores of Singapore.)

Flickr/Ria Tan
Flickr/Ria Tan

Local fish farmers, who say this year is worse than past outbreaks, are blaming development and reclamation in the western part of the state of Johor in Malaysia. A controversial land reclamation project in the Strait of Johor that will be a gas and oil hub as well as home for luxury hotels was given the go-ahead this month. Farmers are also blaming an increase in fish farms, as well as farmers dumping dead fish into the sea, which can spread diseases and result in the creatures washing up on shore en masse.

Subscribe to the Daily Brief, our morning email with news and insights you need to understand our changing world.