Turkey’s maritime crisis: ‘death orders are ringing for the Sea of ​​Marmara’

For a decade, marine biologist Nur Eda Topcu has fought to protect the fragile corals off the coast of Istanbul, which environmentalists say are threatened by the dumping of commercial waste, gas and sewage.

Now he fears {that a} new risk may hasten the tip of the coral reefs of the Sea of ​​Marmara. A gelatinous substance recognized colloquially as sea mucus in latest months has drowned aquatic life, ruined fishing and repelled bathers.

The lengthy brown streaks of the marine mucilage had been nonetheless seen throughout the Marmara in late July, whereas the sticky foam sank beneath the floor and settled on the uncommon corals. Scientists warn that the ocean, whose mixing of Mediterranean and Black Sea currents encourages coral that’s typically discovered at a lot deeper depths, is in peril.

“Loss of life orders are ringing in for the Marmara,” Topcu mentioned after surfacing from a latest dive to clear silt that coated usually fuchsia-colored corals in an Istanbul archipelago. “We can not cease the mucilage. It’s choking the gorgonians [and] infect them with dangerous micro organism. ”She fears most of Marmara’s gentle purple. Paramuricea clavata, listed as a susceptible species of coral, will accomplish that this yr.

Nur Eda Topcu, proper, and Serco Eksiyan, from the Marine Life Conservation Heart, throughout a analysis dive © Bradley Secker / FT

A thick layer of marine mucilage also known as'sea snot' covers the surface of the Sea of ​​Marmara.

A thick layer of marine mucilage covers the ocean floor © Bradley Secker / FT

Factories have practically doubled the flood of sewage they discharge into Turkish seas in recent times, based on official statistics. The 50,000 oil tankers that navigate the Marmara every year illegally dump rubbish and gas, based on a municipal monitor. Nearly two-thirds of the nation’s business, together with an oil refinery, automakers, chemical crops, and energy crops, are concentrated within the area.

A lot of the wastewater from Istanbul, Turkey’s largest metropolis, is barely handled to take away solids after which pumped to the underside of the ocean. “We use it as our cesspool,” mentioned Levent Artuz, a hydrobiologist with the Marmara Environmental Monitoring Mission and writer of a brand new e book. A latest historical past of the air pollution of the Sea of ​​Marmara.

The scenario was not helped by the truth that the ocean temperature had risen a median of two levels Celsius within the Marmara for the reason that starting of this century, because the air pollution trapped the warmth, he mentioned. A state mission that diverted the Ergene River, one among Europe’s most poisonous waterways, into the Marmara final yr was “the tipping level.”

“The elemental downside just isn’t the mucilage. That’s only one hyperlink within the chain of a long time of degradation, ”Artuz mentioned. “We now have zero probability of recovering the Sea of ​​Marmara because it was. What we’ve got to do now’s determine tips on how to stop the Marmara from hurting us. ”

Sea mucus and pollution can be seen in the Sea of ​​Marmara

Lengthy brown streaks of marine mucilage seen throughout the Sea of ​​Marmara in late July © Bradley Secker / FT

The borders of the Sea of ​​Marmara, which has been badly affected by'sea mucus'

Scientists and fishermen say the present outbreak is unprecedented © Bradley Secker / FT

Lately, marine life has died in mass mortality occasions, and there have been jellyfish infestations and algal blooms similar to purple tides and mucilage.

However scientists and fishermen say the present outbreak is unprecedented. Phytoplankton are flourishing because of nutrient-rich wastewater and fertilizers from agricultural runoff, whereas overfishing has eradicated populations of small fish and crustaceans that might devour the algae.

Gone are the mackerel, tuna, swordfish and different shellfish that Istanbul was recognized for. This yr’s set was lowered by 90 p.c from 2020 as mucilage bought caught and dragged out of nets, mentioned Erdogan Kartal, director of the Istanbul fishing cooperative. “Even when we may provide fish markets, clients don’t purchase out of disgust.”

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey, has promised to crack down on polluters and “save our seas from this scourge of mucilage.” 1000’s of cubic meters of sea mucus have been sucked in, the nation’s surroundings minister mentioned. In early July, he pronounced the Marmara “cleaner and bluer” than earlier than.

Turkey is the one G20 nation that has not ratified the Paris accords on local weather change, and grassroots actions to guard the surroundings are sometimes seen as provocative by the federal government.

Authorities have refused to register a brand new Inexperienced Social gathering wanting to combat local weather change. Scientists additionally say {that a} deliberate transportation canal from the Black Sea to the Marmara may deplete the oxygen within the Marmara and promote hydrogen sulfur fuel that might engulf Istanbul with the stench of rotten eggs. Erdogan’s transport minister maintains that cleaner water coming from the Black Sea would enhance the standard of the Marmara.

Alongside the way in which, there have been successes for Topcu and members of the Istanbul Marine Life Conservation Society (MLCS). They secured protected standing for the small Neandros outcrop in April, stopping boats from dropping anchor or catching trawl fish close to their corals. They spent two summers transplanting fan-shaped yellow sea whips to Neandros after a close-by colony of the golden ones. Eunicella cavolini he was buried within the rubble of a authorities building mission.

“We take them like a coronary heart or kidney for transplants, conserving them in chilly water and at the hours of darkness to keep away from shock,” mentioned Serco Eskiyan of the MLCS. It took greater than 100 dives to reap and replant 300 corals at 30 meters depth.

Eda Eryalçın Topçu (left), a marine biologist at Istanbul University, prepares her equipment before a research dive with Tavsan Adasi

Topcu, left, prepares his analysis gear earlier than diving within the Sea of ​​Marmara © Bradley Secker / FT

Eda Eryalçın Topçu, a marine biologist at Istanbul University, shows a photo of a research dive alongside Tavsan Adasi, in the Sea of ​​Marmara south of Istanbul, after repeatedly applying good bacteria to the coral, to combat'sea mucus'which continues to kill the seabed ecosystem

A photograph of a dive. Sea mucus continues to kill the seabed ecosystem, clogging corals © Bradley Secker / FT

However Eskiyan, who has been diving within the islands’ waters for the reason that Seventies and is aware of the realm “just like the rooms in my home,” couldn’t find the transplants in July, blinded by snot from the ocean that lowered visibility to a meter or two. “It appears like a distinct planet,” Topcu mentioned.

A technology in the past, Marmara’s wealthy fauna included seahorses, toxic scorpion fish, and nice white sharks, now all lacking, although Eskiyan nonetheless often encounters a uncommon angular tough shark when looking for “ghost nets” left behind by industrial fishing boats. that drown the corals. The MLCS has collected 32,000 sq. meters of mesh since 2015.

“I place confidence in the ocean’s potential to resume itself from the harm that folks trigger. However now I ponder how for much longer he can defend himself, “Topcu mentioned.

https://insider-voice.com/turkeys-maritime-crisis-death-orders-are-ringing-for-the-sea-of-%E2percent80percent8BpercentE2percent80percent8Bmarmara/ | Turkey’s maritime disaster: ‘loss of life orders are ringing for the Sea of ​​Marmara’

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