The Marmara Sea in Turkey is suffering from an outbreak of “sea snot”, damaging marine life and the fishing industry. The thick layer of the mucus-like matter in the Marmara, as well as in the adjoining Black and Aegean Seas has reached a record high creating an alarming situation for marine biologists and environmentalists. Looking at the situation, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised to save the country’s shores from “sea snot” building up in its waters.

Sea snot in Turkish waters.

During a mass opening ceremony on the occasion of World Environment Day in Istanbul, the country’s President Erdogan blamed the disposal of the untreated waste into the Marmara Sea and climate change for the sea snot bloom in Marmara. Erdogan even appealed for action ‘without delay’ and vowed to “clear the seas from the mucilage scourge”.

What is ‘Sea Snot’?

Sea Snot, also known as marine mucilage, is a collection of thick, slimy, mucus-like substance found in the sea. It is composed of compounds secreted by marine organisms. Marine Mucilage is basically a naturally-occurring green sludge that forms when algae is overloaded with nutrients as a result of hot weather and water pollution. 

Fishing boats in sea snot.

The mucilage was first documented in the year 2007 and was seen in parts of the Aegean Sea near Greece. But the recent outbreak in the Marmara Sea has reached unprecedented levels this year in Turkey. It is clearly visible on the surface of the water as a slimy gray sheet along the shores of Istanbul and other neighbouring provinces.

The Turkish President during the ceremony on the environmental day also said that if this sea snot continues to expand and reaches to the black sea, the trouble is going to be enormous. Therefore, steps need to be taken to cure this problem of marine mucilage without any delay.

Problems arising due to the sea snot:

Various drivers have reported that due to the overgrowth of the mucilage large numbers of fish and other species in the sea are dying from suffocation. Apart from this, many boats travelling through the Sea of Marmara are now navigating this thick-layer of grey sludge. While some fishermen are also being prevented from going into the sea as the mucilage is clogging up their motors and nets.