A thick, slimy blanket of sludge that has swamped the Sea of Marmara threatens its aquatic industry and marine life. This film, known as ‘sea snot’ thrives on warm temperatures and pollution. This organic bloom, thriving for the past 6 months, is a direct result of climate change direct human negligence,
Rising levels of pesticides and wastewater in the Sea of Marmara are believed to be the biggest culprit. The thick film of slime is marine mucilage, made up of living and dead organic material, most of which is phytoplankton.
These algae generally increase the oxygen content in the water. But stress is causing them to grow out of control and give out the thick mucus-like substance that is covering vast areas of the sea.
The sea of Marmara was known for its abundance of fish, and its pristine, blue waters that lap the shore of the Turkish capital of Istanbul. The sea had been seeing increased levels of pollution, but things went out of control in April as this outbreak severely affected its waters, killing countless marine life forms.
The extent of the disaster has made even intractable politicians wake up and take notice. The Turkish President, Recap Erdogan, has blamed the algae bloom covering the Sea of Marmara on the dumping of untreated waste, and also climate change.
But he has ignored the warnings of experts and had persisted with uncontrolled development, contributing to the disaster.
It has affected Istanbul, the Turkish capital, and also other factories, industrial hubs, and provinces on its shoreline.
Marine Lifeforms Dying Out In The Sea Of Marmara
While it is consumed by various marine life forms, such as sea cucumbers and jellyfish, it is the overproduction that has overwhelmed the sea and its life forms. Scientists have blamed the excessive secretion by the phytoplankton in the Sea of Marmara on three triggers.
The rising temperatures in the inland Sea of Marmara have steadily risen over the years to reach an average of 2.5C more than normal in over 4 decades. The second cause is the excessive nitrogen and phosphorus in the sea due to pollution. And finally, the fact that the Sea of Marmara is inland, entirely within the borders of Turkey.
Fishermen have been forced to dump their nets after they got mired in slime and became too heavy to haul out.
Marine life forms are dying out due to a lack of oxygen. Sea cucumbers, jumbo shrimp, and crabs have died en masse. Even more affected are immobile marine life forms such as mussels, sponges, clams, and reefs.
While the administration has resorted to cosmetic measures such as physically cleaning the slime, scientists have warned that it be useless as the real problem lies on the seabed. The mucilage has spread beyond the Sea of Marmara to the Aegean and the Black Sea.