‘Sea Snot’ Outbreak in Turkey Poses Major Ecological Threat

In more weird ocean news, which has been rolling in a lot lately, people in Turkey are reporting the largest-ever “sea snot” outbreak in the country’s history. The gnarly snot is a slimy sludge consisting of gray and green algae. And in this quantity, it poses a serious ecological threat. One that scientists say is being made worse thanks to climate change.

The Guardian reported on the outbreak, which is currently blooming at an alarming speed in the Sea of Marmara. That’s the inland sea entirely within the borders of Turkey connecting the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea.

In the video above, The Guardian offers an up-close view of the menacing sea snot. The ocean slime, which scientists formally refer to as “marine mucilage,” is generally not harmful to people. However, the creamy, gelatinous substance can carry viruses, and bacteria, such as E. coli. And, far more alarmingly, can seriously threaten marine life. In part by forming a sun-blocking barrier over any organisms beneath its disgusting blanket of yuck.

An image of sea snot, or marine mucilage, invading a Turkish bay.

The Guardian

“Look at the mussels, and the sea snails, [the sea snot] kills everything,” one fisher told DW News. The local added, “The shellfish, when they open up, it prevents them from closing again because it gets in the way.”

Indeed, the sludge is clearly thick enough to impose darkness even on the ocean floor. Photojournalist Erdem Şahin’s images below attest to that.

Scientists say climate change looms behind the sea snot’s size increase. The snot thrives in warmer waters. As greenhouse gases trap more energy from the Sun in the atmosphere, the oceans continue to heat. On top of that, there is a local pollution problem from waste water coming from coastal cities and ships.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has called for an inspection into the waste water issue, although local pollution is obviously only one part of the problem. Perhaps there’s a good solution for it, however. Maybe a Turkish authority can contact Boyan Slat and his Ocean Cleanup Project. They have some waste-busting ships that just might do the trick.

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