Turkey Vows to Defeat 'Sea Snot' Plaguing Its Shores

Climate change and pollution contribute to a blanket of thick slimy matter, which has been building up along the sea south of Istanbul

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Turkey's Marmara Sea fills with marine mucilage, a jelly-like layer of slime that develops on the surface of the water due to excessive phytoplankton.
Turkey's Marmara Sea fills with marine mucilage, a jelly-like layer of slime that develops on the surface of the water due to excessive phytoplankton.Credit: YASIN AKGUL - AFP

Turkey's environment minister pledged on Sunday to defeat a plague of "sea snot" threatening the Sea of Marmara with a disaster management plan he said would secure its future.

A thick slimy layer of the organic matter, known as marine mucilage, has spread through the sea south of Istanbul, posing a threat to marine life and the fishing industry.

Harbors, shorelines and swathes of seawater have been blanketed by the viscous, grayish substance, some of which has also sunk below the waves, suffocating life on the seabed.

"Hopefully, together we will protect our Marmara within the framework of a disaster management plan," Environment Minister Murat Kurum said, speaking from a marine research vessel which has been taking samples of the slimy substance.

Marine mucilage, or "sea snot", in Turkey's Marmara Sea.Credit: YASIN AKGUL - AFP

"We will take all the necessary steps within three years and realize the projects that will save not only the present but also the future together," Kurum said, adding that he would soon give details of the action plan.

Scientists say climate change and pollution have contributed to the proliferation of the organic matter, which contains a wide variety of microorganisms and can flourish when nutrient-rich sewage flows into seawater.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed the outbreak on untreated water from cities including Istanbul, home to 16 million people, and vowed to "clear our seas from the mucilage scourge."

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