Kuta’s iconic beach has been declared off-limits to bathers because plankton in the ocean off the coast have died in large numbers — a seasonal phenomenon — and turned the water a dirty brown colour.
The decaying microorganisms also create a bacterial breeding ground.
The problem occurs in most wet seasons as the winds blow onshore. Badung regency maritime and fisheries official Putu Eka Sudaryatma said it wasn’t possible to give a date by which the sea would return to normal.
“It’s caused by a decline in PH or acidity of the sea water of the normal reading 7 to 4 PH. The decrease causes the mass death of plankton, which in turn, causes the sea water to turn brown,” Sudaryatma said.
The stretch of beach from Kuta to Legian, normally crowded with families and tourists, is now quiet and foreign tourists in particular were reluctant to swim even without the official warning to stay out of the water.
“With this kind of dirty water, I’d rather swim elsewhere,” said one tourist, a Russian who gave his name as Yvgeny.
Badung regency said further research would be done and the results of that, which would be available after Nyepi, might give a clue as to when the beach might reopen for swimming.