The Observers

Turkey: Climate change and pollution blamed for 'sea snot' in Marmara Sea

Our Observer, Alper Altay, filmed a series of videos showing the marine mucilage in the Sea of Marmara.
Our Observer, Alper Altay, filmed a series of videos showing the marine mucilage in the Sea of Marmara. © Observers

For several weeks, a thick layer of "sea snot" has covered the Sea of Marmara in Turkey. In fact, it's marine mucilage, a living organism toxic to humans and marine life, which has appeared for the first time in such large quantities. This disturbing phenomenon is linked to global warming and severe pollution, according to several experts. 

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Since mid-May, residents of the coastal towns near the Marmara Sea in Turkey have been concerned about thick layers of a foul-smelling foam on beaches and in harbours. The substance occurs naturally in the Sea of Marmara and around the world, but this time the phenomenon has reached a scale never before seen in Turkey. 

Marine mucilage is a viscous foam secreted by marine microorganisms when they are dying or under stress. In such large quantities, the substance can inhibit the supply of oxygen to parts of the water, suffocating fish and other organisms. 

We spoke to Alper Altay, a local resident who filmed a series of videos showing the mucilage.

Experts say the phenomenon is caused by rising water temperatures in the sea as well as significant levels of pollution into the Sea of Marmara. 

The Turkish government has launched a plan to clean up the sea, sending boats out to collect and dispose of the mucilage.