Sea Snot Outbreak in Turkey
09/06/2021

Tags:

Context:

  • Recently, Turkey’s Sea of Marmara has witnessed the largest outbreak of sea snot.

About:

  • The Sea of Marmara connects the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea, where too the sludge has been spotted.
  • Turkey recorded its first outbreak in 2007, in the Aegean Sea near Greece.

Sea Snot:

  • It is marine mucilage (thick, gluey substance) or a slimy layer of grey or green sludge, which can cause considerable damage to the marine ecosystem.
  • It looks like a viscous, brown, and foamy substance.

Cause: 

  • It is formed when algae are overloaded with nutrients.
  • The nutrient overload occurs when algae feast on warm weather caused by global warming
  • Water pollution adds to the problem as cities like Istanbul, which is home to 16 million people, discharge untreated water into the seas.

Impacts:

    • The mucilage floats up on the surface of the sea and poses a severe threat to the marine ecosystem.
    • It has caused mass deaths among the fish population and has killed other aquatic organisms such as corals and sponges.
    • It has also spread to 80-100 feet below the surface. If not checked and taken care of, it can collapse to the bottom and cover the sea floor.
    • Over a period, it can poison all aquatic life, including fishes, crabs, oysters, mussels, and sea stars.
    • It has also affected the livelihoods of fishermen as the sludge is getting collected in their nets, making them so heavy that they break or get lost.
      • Moreover, the mucilage coating the strings makes the nets visible to fish and keeps them away.
    • It can possibly lead to an outbreak of water-borne diseases such as cholera in cities like Istanbul.

Steps Taken:

    • The entire Sea of Marmara will be turned into a protected area.
    • Steps are being taken to reduce pollution and improve treatment of wastewater from coastal cities and ships.
    • All other steps under the framework of a disaster management plan are being taken to save not only the present but also the future.
    • Turkey’s biggest maritime clean-up operation is being launched.
    • Local residents, artists and NGOs are being called to join hands to extend assistance.

Preventive Measures:

    • The government should impose strong penalties on waste disposal facilities that fail to follow the rules.
    • Fresh investments to treat and purify wastewater being pumped out of Istanbul are needed to provide a long-term solution to the crisis.
    • Turkey has planned to reduce nitrogen levels in the sea by 40 per cent, which would help tackle the crisis and prevent it from happening again.
    • Lawmakers and environmentalists have suggested the Turkey government to approve the Paris Agreement on climate change which aims to cut down on carbon emissions and reduce global temperatures.
      • Turkey is the only G20 country that has not ratified the Paris Agreement.
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