Villagers flock to Pantai Rusila near Kampung Rhu Dua to collect sea snails. Photo: Bernama

BY KAMALIZA KAMARUDDIN

MARANG: Last seen over 50 years ago, sea snails of the Margistrombus species, also known as sikad-sikad in Sabah, have been found in abundance at Pantai Rusila near Kampung Rhu Dua here.

Brought in by the monsoon waves, their tasty squid-like flesh and pretty shells entice visitors to flock the beach to collect them.

Kamariah Mohammad, 64, told Bernama the reappearance of the sea snails brought childhood memories of eating the rare delicacy that could be turned into various scrumptious dishes.

“Most who come here are not selling them because they want to taste the sea snails themselves, some shared them with the villagers,” quipped Kamariah who lives nearby.

Last year during the monsoon season, a cockles phenomenon had attracted the public to the same beach, but this year, the sea snails showed up as the main star.

Another villager, Muhammad Nasaruddin Ramli, 26, said he gathered almost seven kilograms (kg) of the shellfish after searching for three hours.

“I got only three kg yesterday and my family said the sea snails are delicious to be cooked into gulai masak lemak (cooked with coconut milk) and masak tumis serai (stir fried with lemongrass).

“My intention is to give them to relatives and neighbours who cannot come today,” said the lad, who had never seen the snails before.

Besides looking for the sea snails, visitors also did not miss the chance to take a dip in the sea and spend some time with their families, as the weather was fine during Bernama checks.

However, many were careful not to go too far from the shore.

For Sekolah Kebangsaan Seberang Marang teacher, El Gamillo Habibun Tan, 50, who hails from Muar, he had come to capture some photos and videos of the occasion, to keep as memories while working in the state.

“Praise to God, monsoon season in Terengganu this time continues to provide sustenance and blessings to the people, especially exotic food lovers. Yesterday, many went to Pantai Pandak near Chendering to look for cockles and today, Pantai Rusila became the focus,” he said, sharing that a friend in Sabah told him the snails are known as sikad-sikad in Sabah and easily found at coastlines there.

Meanwhile, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) Tropical Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute senior lecturer Norainy Mohd Husin, confirmed from the pictures and videos shown that the snails could be eaten and was known in its scientific term as Margistrombus.

“The snails can be found in Indo-Pacific waters including Sabah and Johor. Its appearance in Terengganu might have been caused by natural factors that need further research,” said Norainy, who plans to go to the site to study the snails soon. – Bernama