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Rare phenomenon where thousands of ikan bilis jumped to the shores appeared in Pulau Pangkor

Residents of Pulau Pangkor, Perak were delighted after thousands of ikan bilis (anchovies) were found on the shores of the island. Photos and videos of the scene have also gone viral on social media over the weekend.

According to Bernama, Perak fisheries director Noraishah Hashim said the phenomenon where thousands of anchovies leapt out of the waters took place on Pasir Bogak beach, the west coast of the island that faces away from the Peninsular.

It is understood that the phenomenon happened at several intervals beginning Friday (12 August) and a small quantity of silver-type round herring fries was also found stranded on the beach.

At 7.30 pm on Saturday (13 August), the phenomenon happened again. Noraishah said this time, many residents and visitors came with bags to collect the anchovies.

Meanwhile, Noraishah said fisheries officials will be monitoring the phenomenon from time to time.

She explained that the possible reasons could be large fish hunting for small anchovies and the bright lights on Pasir Bogak.

“Fishermen in the area said large fish, especially the alu-alu fish (yellowtail barracuda), could be hunting the anchovies, forcing them to jump onto the beach,” she said, adding that artificial lights on the beach might have also lured the anchovies to the shore.

On the other hand, it was reported that the anchovy catch by local fishermen had increased several days prior to the strange phenomenon.

Noraishah said the anchovy population could have increased because a conservation zone for fish breeding had been created through a rezoning of fishing areas on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia in 2016.

Adding on to the possible reasons for the phenomenon, a local owner of a fishing boat who specialises in harvesting anchovies said that it is believed that the production of anchovies in the shallow waters was too much, causing the waves to wash them ashore.

He also said this phenomenon is not the first but it had happened several times over the past few decades, though they can be rare.

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