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‘Sea snot’ outbreak in Turkey:

GS Paper 3

Topics Covered: Conservation and Pollution related issues.

 

Context:

The sea snot that dominated the landlocked Marmara Sea earlier this year is nowhere to be seen on the surface nowadays, but its fallout appears to be bigger than experts initially hoped.

 

Impact of sea snot:

  1. Overall, 60% of species have already disappeared.
  2. The layers have sunk and are beginning to decompose.
  3. The decomposition consumes oxygen in the water, which in turn promotes the formation of new marine mucilage.
  4. In October, the conditions will be particularly favorable for a new spread. Therefore, the sludge may be visible on the surface again in November.
  5. The slime could also spread to the Black Sea and the Aegean and may cause a regional ecological crisis.

 

Background:

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.

What is sea snot?

  • It is a slimy layer of grey or green sludge, which can cause considerable damage to the marine ecosystem.
  • It is formed when algae are overloaded with nutrients.
  • A ‘sea snot’ outbreak was first recorded in the country in 2007. Back then, it was also spotted in the Aegean Sea near Greece.

Overloading of nutrients happens because of warm weather caused by global warming, water pollution, uncontrolled dumping of household and industrial waste into the seas etc.

 

What are the impacts? Concerns?

  1. It has spread through the sea south of Istanbul and also blanketed harbours and shorelines.
  2. It is posing a severe threat to the marine ecosystem of the country- it has caused mass deaths among the fish population, and also killed other aquatic organisms such as corals and sponges.
  3. If unchecked, this can collapse to the bottom and cover the sea floor, causing major damage to the marine ecosystem.
  4. Over a period of time, it could end up poisoning all aquatic life, including fishes, crabs, oysters, mussels and sea stars.
  5. Besides aquatic life, the ‘sea snot’ outbreak has also affected the livelihoods of fishermen.
  6. It can also cause an outbreak of water-borne diseases such as cholera in cities like Istanbul.

 

Steps taken by Turkey to contain its spread:

  1. Turkey has decided to declare the entire Sea of Marmara as a protected area.
  2. Steps are being taken to reduce pollution and improve treatment of waste water from coastal cities and ships.
  3. A disaster management plan is being prepared.

 

 

Insta Curious:

Did you know that Not all algal blooms are harmful, some can actually be beneficial. Read here

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is a sea snot?
  2. What are algal blooms?
  3. About Black Sea.
  4. About Aegian Sea.
  5. Where is sea of Marmara?

Mains Link:

Discuss the issues associated with the formation of sea snots.

Sources: down to earth.