A thick, slimy layer of so-called “sea snot” is spreading in the Turkish Sea of Marmara south of Istanbul, threatening marine life and the fishing industry.
Scientists say climate change and pollution have contributed to the proliferation of organic matter, also known as marine mucilage, which contains a wide variety of microorganisms and can thrive when nutrient-rich sewage pours in in sea water.
Drone footage shot over the Sea of Marmara shows ferries and cargo ships plying through ports and seawater coated in a slimy, grayish substance that can suffocate marine life.
“The fate of the Sea of Marmara is the result of what humans have done. It’s the result of household waste and pollution,” said filmmaker Tahsin Ceylan, who is making a documentary on the impact of sea snot.
“The only thing to do is not to throw your waste into the sea,” he said. “I think nature doesn’t deserve this.”
Experts have linked the increasing amount of sea snot to high sea temperatures resulting from climate change as well as the discharge of untreated sewage into the sea.
Environment Minister Murat Kurum said sea snot was a serious problem and a 300-person team was assessing dozens of points in the Sea of Marmara as well as water treatment facilities and sources of pollution.
He said the government would bring together all relevant parties on Friday and announce an action plan to protect the sea on Sunday.
Hydrobiologist Levent Artuz warned that such ecological problems will persist unless there is a change in people’s behavior.
“As long as we continue these practices, it doesn’t make much sense to expect different results. We will continue to encounter disasters like this,” he said, pointing to the increase in sewage discharges into the waters in recent years.