Sea Snot outbreak in Turkey


  • Recently, there has been growing environmental concern in Turkey over the accumulation of ‘sea snot’.

Key Highlights

  • It is a slimy layer of grey or green sludge in the country’s seas, which can cause considerable damage to the marine ecosystem.
  • Turkey’s Sea of Marmara, that connects the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea, has witnessed the largest outbreak of ‘sea snot’.
  • The sludge has also been spotted in the adjoining Black and Aegean seas.
  • The thick slimy layer of organic matter, which looks like a viscous, brown and foamy substance, has spread through the sea south of Istanbul and also blanketed harbours and shorelines.

What is a Sea Snot?

  • It is marine mucilage that is formed when algae are overloaded with nutrients as a result of water pollution combined with the effects of climate change.
  • The nutrient overload occurs when algae feast on warm weather caused by global warming.
    • The phenomenon of water pollution adds to the problem.
  • The overproduction of phytoplankton caused by climate change and the uncontrolled dumping of household and industrial waste into the seas has led to the Sea Snot.
    • The dumping of sewage in the sea along with rising temperatures is causing the crisis.
  • A ‘sea snot’ outbreak was first recorded in the country in 2007 and it was also spotted in the Aegean Sea near Greece.

Impact of Sea Snot in Marine Ecosystem

  • The growth of the mucilage, which floats up on the surface of the sea like a brown phlegm, is posing a severe threat to the marine ecosystem of the country.
  • The sea divers have said that it has caused mass deaths among the fish population, and also killed other aquatic organisms such as corals and sponges.
  • The mucilage is now covering the surface of the sea and has also spread to 80-100 feet below the surface.
    • If unchecked, this can collapse to the bottom and cover the sea floor, causing major damage to the marine ecosystem.
  • It could end up poisoning all aquatic life, including fishes, crabs, oysters, mussels and sea stars.
  • It has also affected the livelihoods of fishermen because the sludge is getting collected in their nets, making them so heavy that they break or get lost.
  • The mucilage coating the strings makes the nets visible to fish and keep them away.
  • The experts have also warned that the ‘sea snot’ can cause an outbreak of water-borne diseases such as cholera in cities like Istanbul.

Back to basics

Sea of Marmara

  • It is a small inland sea that is completely bordered by the transcontinental nation of Turkey.
  • It has been named after the Turkish Island of Marmara, whose name was derived from the Greek word Mármaron which means “marble”.
  • It separates Asian Turkey from European Turkey.
  • In the northeast, it is connected to the Black Sea via the Bosphorus Strait, whereas in the southwest, it is linked with the Aegean Sea via the Dardanelles Strait.

Source: IE

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