Turkey Fights to Save Its Seas 'From This Mucilage Calamity'

The country is battling its worst 'sea snot' outbreak
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 6, 2021 8:25 AM CDT
Turkey Is Battling a 'Sea Snot' Problem
An aerial photo of Pendik port in Asian side of Istanbul, Friday, June 4, 2021, with a huge mass of marine mucilage, a thick, slimy substance made up of compounds released by marine organisms, in Turkey's Marmara Sea.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – As far as presidential quotes go, it's a pretty good one: "Hopefully, we will save our seas from this mucilage calamity." So said Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday in reference to a "sea snot" outbreak in his country that is wreaking havoc on area sea life and fishing, with fish suffocating to death and boat motors and nets gunked up by the sludge. The BBC describes a "thick, slimy layer of the mucus-like matter" that is building up at the Sea of Marmara, which connects the Black and Aegean Seas. The AP puts it like so: "It is visible above the water as a slimy gray sheet along the shores of Istanbul and neighboring provinces. Underwater videos showed suffocated coral covered with sea snot."

Also known as marine mucilage, the sea snot was first identified in Turkey in 2007; this is thought to be the largest outbreak to date. It's a natural occurrence that results from algae being oversaturated with nutrients due to heat and water pollution. Erdogan cited hot weather and untreated sewage deposited into the sea as causes and warned that "enormous" trouble would follow if it expands into the Black Sea. He called for an investigation, and a 300-person team has set out to investigate waste water and solid waste facilities along with other potential pollution sources. One marine expert cited waste water from nearby Istanbul as problematic. (Read more Turkey stories.)

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