Sea of ​​Marmara mucilage nightmare returns to Maltepe in Istanbul


The heart cries what the eye does not see. The Sea of ​​Marmara nightmare, mucilage or ‘sea snot’, reemerged off Maltepe, Istanbul, on Tuesday with experts and activists echoing warnings that the environmental disaster could affect the region again this summer with the current rate of pollution and heating.

The disturbing news came two days after scientists conducting underwater surveys off the Princes’ Islands in the Sea of ​​Marmara found that last year’s escape had greatly affected marine life, including corals and sponges.

The problem of mucilage, which plagues the surface of the Marmara, reached a level that could be described as catastrophic last year. The natural phenomenon, blamed on increasing organic pollutants and rising sea temperatures, has strongly affected tourism and fishing.

Turkish authorities had announced the Sea of ​​Marmara 22-point action plan to deal with the outbreak. After an intense campaign to clean up the sea, Turkish authorities said the sea had been cleared of mucilage.

No presence of mucilage was found in underwater images taken at Maltepe, while aerial images captured layers of mucilage on the sea surface.

A short distance off the coast of Maltepe, researchers from Istanbul University’s Faculty of Aquatic Sciences conducted an underwater study of the effects of mucilage, and their findings painted a grim picture.

Highlighting the region’s richness in terms of sponges, particularly from a point south of Büyükada, Associate Professor Nur Eda Topçu said: “It was a place where you could see all the colors on a scale colors in a small area. Now everything looks brown. The number of sponges has also decreased significantly,” she said.

Supported by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBITAK), the research, which is being carried out at nine dive resorts around the islands, is among 37 projects supported by the body under its special research call. on mucilage. It aims to find out what survived after the mucilage phenomenon, how many are there and where are they located.

Topçu told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the area has seabed that could be described as a “coral garden” or a “forest in terms of thickness, and it is home to some species that we found only in the Mediterranean.As of 2015, a breaking point has occurred for creatures living under the seabed and mass deaths have occurred in sponges and corals as construction of the seafront in the region was increasing, she explained.

“In particular, the red gorgonian (soft coral) is a species that has been declining in numbers since the 1970s due to fishing. It later became very rare due to other causes, especially seaside activities Now it’s almost non-existent because of the mucilage,” Topçu said. , pointing out that the red gorgonians are doomed to disappear from the region since it is a species with a long lifespan, slow growth and low capacity for multiplication.

“All is not lost, there is still life. If we give Marmara a chance, I think there could be a quick recovery,” Topçu said, noting that if a large outbreak of mucilage occurs. reproduced, it could mean the death of all survivors. seabed creatures.

Associate Professor Bülent Topaloğlu said he detected 20 species of sponges in the Sea of ​​Marmara in previous studies, but their numbers likely dropped after the mucilage appeared.

“It is as if a massacre had occurred at the bottom of the sea. This is what the underwater images show. It will be possible for us to have more concrete results after analysis”, he said. said.

The mucilage clogs the pores of living creatures by filtering nutrients in the water, which means the death of sponges, Topaloğlu explained.

Thick layers of mucilage were also seen in the Dardanelles a week earlier despite strong currents in the strait. Documenting the incident on his fishing boat, Evren Kızoğlu, chairman of Çanakkale city council and mukhtar of the city’s Cevatpaşa district, told Ihlas News Agency (IHA) that what was seen as a blur under the water a few days ago had thickened and reached the surface. .

“The Sea of ​​Marmara belongs entirely to us and is surrounded by our country. We were told that we were in danger of being destroyed. Our ministry took action and the Union of Marmara Municipalities held meetings. It is clear that inspections should be strengthened, which means that advanced biological treatment facilities should be actively used and waters should not be discharged into the open sea, even if they have been treated,” Kızoğlu said.

The delicate situation in the Sea of ​​Marmara has also alarmed the public, with residents of the port city of Gemlik in Bursa province last week launching a marine protection campaign led by the local municipality against plans to set up a deep sea discharge system from a chemical plant. .

Following a press release on February 14, the Municipality of Gemlik urged residents to sign a petition to protect the eponymous gulf, which is dotted with olive groves and resorts while serving as an important industrial and commercial center. Mayor Mehmet Uğur Sertaslan said the area, once known for farming sea sponges, has come to a point where even the health effects of swimming there are being discussed.

“The mucilage, which occurred last year after warmer weather, served as an indicator of how the Sea of ​​Marmara has been damaged by pollutants. Now this deep-sea discharge system planned for our district seeks to draw 5,500 cubic meters (1.45 million gallons) of water per hour – seven times more than all of Gemlik’s daily uses – for cooling, then discharge the hot water back into the sea. Of course, we know that different amounts of chemicals, including chlorine, will end up in the sea,” he mentioned.

“This system will increase the temperature of the Gulf of Gemlik by 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in winter and 2 degrees (Celsius) in summer. Temperatures in the Sea of ​​Marmara have increased by 2.5 degrees Celsius over the of the last 30 years. The increase in sea water temperatures and the use of chemicals will affect the region from the Gulf of Gemlik to the Kapıdağ Peninsula in Balıkesir. The Sea of ​​Marmara no longer has any defense against new polluting effects,” added the mayor, calling on citizens to support the petition.

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