Bedok Reservoir users warned of fish and turtle bites

Bedok Reservoir users warned of fish and turtle bites
The PUB suspended kayaking, dragon-boating and canoeing at Bedok Reservoir from Dec 17 to Jan 16 on suspicions that the leg injuries reported could have been caused by bites from freshwater turtles or fish such as the toman.

WATER-SPORT enthusiasts visiting Bedok Reservoir have been warned to be wary of being bitten by fish and turtles.

The unusual reminder by national water agency PUB comes after water activities there were suspended for a month recently, after three people complained of minor leg injuries.

The PUB suspended kayaking, dragon-boating and canoeing from Dec 17 to Jan 16 on suspicions that the injuries could have been caused by bites from freshwater turtles or fish such as the toman. The agency has not received reports of similar injuries at other reservoirs.

A PUB spokesman told The Straits Times that it has advised water-activity operators to tell participants to exercise caution and to put on proper footwear. The public is also reminded not to release animals into reservoirs, she added.

Schools have been urged to tell their students to be careful when in the water and to avoid submerging their feet where possible.

Two of the cases involved a pair of students from the nearby Temasek Polytechnic. They suffered cuts to their feet after kayak training there last year.The school said its coaches will focus more on land training for now.

During the suspension, trapping led to fish, including a tarpon, African walking catfish, armour sucker catfish and peacock bass, being caught, said the PUB.

Wildlife consultant Subaraj Rajathurai said Bedok Reservoir, being a man-made water body, will not have any native fish species. The fish caught by the PUB were most likely released into the waters, he added. The toman fish, which can grow up to 1m long, may bite or become defensive when disturbed, he said.

"When you do water sports and are constantly disturbing the waters, there is no way to guarantee that you won't get bitten. It is, after all, not a swimming pool," said Mr Subaraj.

The PUB, which will continue to monitor the situation at Bedok closely, said it has not received reports of animals being released into reservoirs here.

The release of animals or fish into reservoirs is prohibited as it may affect their ecology. Those caught doing so will be issued a fine of $50 on their first offence and $200 on their second offence.

Offenders will be prosecuted for subsequent offences and may be fined up to $3,000.

kcarolyn@sph.com.sg


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