“Sea Snot” outbreak in Turkey and its effect on the marine ecosystem


What is the News?

Sea Snot accumulation in the Sea of Marmara (Turkey) is causing grave environmental concern. This is because Sea Snot can cause considerable damage to the marine ecosystem.

  • The Sea of Marmara is an inland sea entirely within the borders of Turkey. The sea connects the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea, thus separating Turkey’s Asian and European lands.
Sea of Marmara
Sea of Marmara (Source: Wiki)

About Sea Snot:

  • Sea Snot is also known as Sea Saliva or Marine Mucilage. It is a collection of thick, slimy, mucus-like substance found in the sea. It is composed of compounds secreted by marine organisms.
    • Mucilage is a thick, gluey substance produced by nearly all plants and some microorganisms.
  • Formation: It 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. Water pollution also causes the problem.
Sea Snot in Turkey:
Sea Snot (Source: Reuters)
  • A ‘sea snot’ outbreak was first recorded in Turkey in 2007. Back then, it was also spotted in the Aegean Sea near Greece. But the current outbreak in the Sea of Marmara is by far the biggest in the country’s history.
  • Reason for this outbreak: The overproduction of phytoplankton caused by climate change. The uncontrolled dumping of household and industrial waste into the seas has also led to the present crisis in Turkey.
Effects of Sea Snot:

Marine Ecosystem:

  • The growth of the mucilage which floats upon the surface of the sea like brown phlegm poses a severe threat to the marine ecosystem of the country.
  • It has already caused mass deaths among the fish population and also killed other aquatic organisms such as corals and sponges.
  • Moreover, 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.
Livelihood:
  • The Sea Snot outbreak has also affected the livelihoods of fishermen.
  • The sludge is getting collected in the fishermen’s 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.

Diseases:

  • Several experts have warned that the ‘sea snot’ can cause an outbreak of water-borne diseases such as cholera in cities like Istanbul.

Source: Indian Express

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