The severe outbreak of sea snot in the water off of Turkey has threatened marine life and the fishing industry. The Marmara sea has in recent years seen a fresh challenge. The sea connects the Aegean to the Black Sea and has been blanketed by a thick layer of a foamy substance with the consistency of mucus. This marine mucilage is caused by a form of algae in the water and is known as sea snot.
It was first reported here in 2007, but the current outbreak is the severest yet. The sea snot has formed a thick opaque layer over the surface of the sea and has spread 80 to 100 feet below the surface threatening the ecosystem below.
Sea Snot Choking Off Sea Life
Sea divers have reported that seahorses and crabs are dying en masse as the thick mucous substance was choking their gills. The visibility is too poor and there has been mass destruction of marine life which has cocked off oxygen for other marine life.
A combination of phytoplankton proliferation, unusually warm water, and sewage and industrial pollutants combine to produce a dangerous cocktail. This bloom consists primarily of single-celled algae called diatoms which become sticky when they release a sugary form of carbohydrate known as polysaccharides. This sticky consistency has led to its being labeled as a sea snot.
Scientists have for long suspected that sea snot can spread diseases in the sea. The presence of a large number of exclusive bacterial biodiversity, and were home to many pathogen species like microbes and viruses that were not present in waters free from the sea snot.
While mucilage outbreaks are nothing new, the frequency and its intensity are worrying scientists. There has been an exponential increase in the past 2 decades. The disruption in temperatures has been linked to the increase in the intensity and the number of outbreaks.
Turkey has announced emergency measures to block the outbreak. The entire Marmara Sea has been marked as a sheltered area and pollutants that aggravate the outbreak of sea snots such as untreated feces and industrial wastes that are dumped by coastal communities and passing ships, into the seas.
Only advanced treatment facilities that reduce the nitrogen will help to stop the sea snot. Boats to receive the waste from ships would also be set up.
Dredging has been undertaken to physically remove the sea snot. The effort has yielded around 110 tons of sea snot through amphibious vehicles and sea brooms. But physical cleaning is not the solution and authorities have to go for an overhaul of its infrastructure to tackle the issue which has affected the tourism and fishing industry. It has also turned into a threat to the coastal communities.