Turkey, sea snot on the seabed of the Sea of Marmara

Sea snot has killed 60% of the species in the Sea of Marmara

Scientists claim that sea snot will return in November, warning of dramatic consequences for the ocean ecosystem.

The sea snot that covered large areas of the coast of the Sea of ​​Marmara, in Northwestern Turkey, and which is caused mainly by marine pollution and rising temperatures due to climate change, could have greater consequences than expected, according to experts, who warn that it has killed 60% of species in the sea.

Although after months of cleaning efforts it has been possible to eliminate practically all of the marine mucilage on the surface, the effects on the ecosystem of the Sea of ​​Marmara – which connects the Black Sea with the Aegean – have been much more profound than previously believed, and they will have long-term consequences on this sea, according to biologists.

“In general, 60% of the species have already disappeared (in the Marmara)”, underlines the hydrobiologist Levent Artüz when speaking of the gelatinous layer of decomposing organic matter and phytoplankton that began to cover the sea surface since May, including the coasts of big cities like Istanbul.

Sea snot could unleash an ecological crisis across the region

Its effects however go beyond the surface: mucilage accumulates on the seabed and clings to surfaces, suffocating and killing all marine life. Artüz, who leads a group of about twenty experts that monitors the environmental situation in the Sea of ​​Marmara, also fears that the phenomenon could spread to the Black Sea and the Aegean, unleashing an entire ecological crisis in the region.

In fact, although since August it has been possible to eliminate it on the surface, its disastrous effects are far from over, as emphasised by Professor Mustafa Sarı, an expert in water resources management at the University 17 of September in Bandırma, a small city in the south bank of the Marmara. As the mucilage layers have descended to the seafloor and started to break down, the oxygen in the water is exhausted, which in turn triggers the formation of more marine mucilage.

Sarı predicts that by the month of October, once conditions are favorable again, sea snot will reappear threatening the species and habitat not only of the Marmara, but of the entire region, and predicts that from November it will become visible again on the surface of the sea. And although the Turkish government in June allocated huge resources to clean this substance, in what was described as the largest mobilisation to clean the sea in Turkey’s history, experts agree that not enough has been done, and that the discharge of sewage into the sea must end.