Clean-up campaign against ‘sea snot’ gains momentum in Turkey

Drainage pipes sprawled into the water and boats hastily sailed off the coast of the Sea of ​​Marmara as marine mucilage, a thick layer of rapidly spreading microorganisms due to heavy pollution , continues to cover Turkish waters.

The government launched an action plan and an emergency clean-up campaign along the shores of the landlocked sea earlier this week to combat the phenomenon threatening flora and fauna. Over the past two days, 392 cubic meters (13,843 cubic feet) of mucilage, colloquially known as “sea snot,” has been collected for disposal. The teams work at 31 sites in Istanbul, Kocaeli, Bursa, Balıkesir, Çanakkale, Yalova and TekirdaÄŸ, the provinces bordering the Marmara. Some 1,000 people on board and on shore work around the clock to clean up the sea.

They managed to collect more than 235 cubic meters of mucilage on the first day of the efforts on Tuesday and Wednesday, an additional 156.6 cubic meters were collected, intended for disposal in waste collection areas.

In Istanbul, which has a long coastline along the Marmara, crews managed to collect 103.8 cubic meters of mucilage in two days.

The divers jump into the sea to check the bottom where the marine glanders are most present, while on the surface, the boats put up floating barriers, before skimming the mucilage. Strong winds in some places are also contributing to the elimination efforts.

Environment and Town Planning Minister Murat Kurum, who launched the clean-up campaign on the Caddebostan coast in Istanbul, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that it was the largest campaign ever cleaning services in Turkey. “Our work will remove eye pollution and odor in the Marmara and help sunlight reach the bottom (for the growth of the underwater ecosystem). Our work will be useful in keeping it clean and I want to assure the public that we will make the Marmara clean again, in the spirit of mobilization, ”he said.

Sea glanders have taken a heavy toll on the fishery, the main source of income for thousands of people in the Marmara, as fish have died in areas affected by the mucilage. Although experts say snot does not leave “poison” inside fish as previously assumed, fishermen have complained of declining sales. The Sabah newspaper reported that sales of fish in the Marmara provinces fell by 70% following the news of glanders from the sea. Although the fishing season, which had otherwise started well, is now over, fishermen say that if the mucilage persists, the new season could see a further decline in sales. Authorities say it may take at least a year to clean up the marine glanders. Elsewhere, marine glanders are also threatening tourism, with reports of massive cancellations of bookings at hotels and similar locations at popular vacation spots, from the Princes’ Islands of Istanbul to Erdek and Çınarcık in the south of the Sea of ​​Marmara. Real estate agents are also reporting a lull in sales and rentals of summer homes in areas along the waterfront.

“I witnessed what we talked together,” laments Mehtap Çiftçi. Diver and underwater photographer, Çiftçi was among those who examined the damage sea snot left on the seabed. “The Sea of ​​Marmara is sick and fighting for life. The bottom is worse than the surface. I have done dives in Gemlik, Izmit and Mudanya (towns along the Marmara coast) and everywhere; the background looked like a scene from a horror movie, ӂiftçi told the Sabah newspaper. “It’s like a powerful bomb has flattened the bottom and sucked life out there. I couldn’t hit bottom because of the mucilage. It was very fuzzy and no sign of life. I could only dive about 10 meters (33 feet), ”she said. She said the mussels, oysters and green algae at the bottom were all covered in snot and that she only encountered a few surviving fish. “When you look at the surface from below, you have the impression that you are under a thick layer of ice. The mucilage dried out and was very solid. It almost built a prison, a ghost net for fish, ”she said.

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