July 1, 2009

Doomed River Snails in Luak Bay Miri

Whales get beached ( The Whale Rider) and dolphins need to be rescued by local folks for being stranded on shallow waters- all these are heart rending stories for newspapers and TV. In the last three weeks thousands of fresh water snails have been washed from the rivers surrounding the Luak Bay to the Luak beach. Big snails small snails brown snails black snails. Some were empty while some were barely alive. These much sought after snails are now just shells on the beach. The local fishermen and fisherwomen have been wondering what could be the causes of the deaths of these edible snails.

The bigger snails - using my Toyota key as scale.

A large number of river snails (some still with flesh inside) along the beach further away from the river)

Lovely arrangement of snails/shells.

Photo taken from a height of six feet. (I stood on the rocky embankment)

Although these snails (helix) are very tough species and could live in water contaminated with high levels of minerals it is strange that they have died mysteriously. There must be a reasons why they are stranded on the shores of Lujak Bay. By then they might have been killed by superfluous pesticides of different strengths!

Perhaps words of caution should be spread around not to buy them from the tamu.

If a man dies for no better reasons he gets an autopsy. When snails die out of the blue in thousands shouldn't a test be run? I don't think these snails have been flushed out of the river by accident in thousands. There couldn't have been a wrong migratory route.


Anonymous said...

Thanks. I would really be very careful about snails from now on.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Sarawakiana for writing this article.
We need people who are observant about these topics.....our own YB has already mentioned that we cannot just depend ont the government alone to take care of the environment.


Anonymous said...

We Chinese eat the small river snails which we used to collect in Rajang River....but these are fairly big and I am not very sure I would eat them....
Ah choon.

JK said...

Hi Sarawakiana,

These are actually freshwater snails. Once they ended up in the sea, they'll die quickly. Rows of empty shells along beaches near estuaries are commonly seen in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and areas near rice fields in Malaysia.

The two colour forms (gold and brown-lined) are the same species commonly known as the apple snails, or Pomacea canalicuta. They are actually introduced from the Amazon and is currently a major pest around the world (including rice crops in Southeast Asia).

"Anonymous July 15, 2009" said about the smaller snails in Rajang. Those are the native snails. However, both are edible. The smaller native ones (most probably Brotia sp.) has been the food of choice for SE Asians since prehistoric times while the apple snails are actually accidental escapees from snail-farms breeding for it's popular snail meat.


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