Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

‘Sea Snot’ outbreak in Turkey

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sea Snot, Marmara Sea

Mains level : Algal bloom

There has been growing environmental concern in Turkey over the accumulation of ‘sea snot’, a slimy layer of grey or green sludge in the country’s seas, which can cause considerable damage to the marine ecosystem.

What is ‘Sea Snot’?

  • ‘Sea snot’ is marine mucilage that is formed when algae are overloaded with nutrients as a result of water pollution combined with the effects of climate change.
  • A ‘sea snot’ outbreak was first recorded in the country 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.
  • The nutrient overload occurs when algae feast on warm weather caused by global warming. Water pollution adds to the problem.
  • Environmental experts have said that the overproduction of phytoplankton caused by climate change and the uncontrolled dumping of household and industrial waste into the seas has led to the present crisis.

Where has it been found?

  • Turkey’s Sea of Marmara, which 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.

How badly can the crisis affect the marine ecosystem?

  • The growth of the mucilage, which floats upon the surface of the sea like brown phlegm, is posing a severe threat to the marine ecosystem of the country.
  • Divers have said that it has caused mass deaths among the fish population, and also killed other aquatic organisms such as corals and sponges.
  • 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.
  • Over a period of time, it could end up poisoning all aquatic life, including fishes, crabs, oysters, mussels and sea stars.
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