ISTANBUL (dpa) – Thick pellets swirl on the surface of the water and don’t invite you to shower: Turkey’s Marmara Sea is plagued by a slime plague caused by algae.
Bayram Ozturk, a biologist at the Turkish Foundation for Marine Research and a professor at Istanbul University, says the sea is under severe pressure. The peak is still “not yet reached”. He and other experts are calling for rapid intervention.
The slime is the product of some algae secretion and drift at the surface of the sea, but also below it. Sooner or later it will settle to the bottom of the sea. Algae reproduce through high temperatures, says Ekin Akoglu, a marine biologist at Udtu University in Turkey. Mud formation can also be favored by untreated wastewater discharged directly into the sea. The inland sea coast is densely populated. In addition to Istanbul, which has a population of 16 million, large cities such as Bursa are also located on it.
Ozturk says that slime is also prevalent in the northern Aegean and western Black Sea. He’s been warning about marine slime since the 1980s. So far this has had no effect.
Mud doesn’t just make showering impossible. Fishermen cannot cast their nets either because they break or at least become too dirty and unusable. According to Akoglu, the slime has negative consequences for organisms living on the sea floor – such as mussels, whose growth slows down when they are under a layer of slime.
Even soft, slime-covered corals can’t do their real job, which is to filter the water. In the long run, the negative impact on zooplankton, on which many fish feed, is especially fatal. If their amount decreases, the fish population will also decrease. Ozturk even warns of a “mass extinction” of marine life.
The government is also aware of the slime problem. An action plan has been announced. However, Ozturk thinks little of that. These announcements have already been made in the past. Quick and clear steps are now needed. In the short term, Akoğlu says, the mucus can be removed mechanically. In the long term, in addition to a global climate policy that addresses the rise in temperature, there is a need to improve wastewater treatment in Turkey. Öztürk also calls for dedicated protection zones in which the sea and its inhabitants can relax and further research to get to the heart of the problem.
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