Endangered coral transported across Marmara islands via special method
İdris Emen – ISTANBUL
A species of coral colony that face possible danger of extinction in a reef off Sivriada, one of the Princes’ Islands in the Sea of Marmara, has been transferred via a special method to another of the Princes’ Islands—known by the names of Tavşan Island or Balıkçı Island or Neandros Island in Greek.
The move came after experts said species of Eunicella cavolini, commonly known as the yellow gorgonian or yellow sea whip, would face extinction on the Sivriada reef following the zoning of the island for construction.
The incident prompted the ADYSK Association (Adalar Denizle Yaşam ve Spor Kulübü Derneği) to adopt a technique developed in Spain within the scope of a project called “ADAMER” and to apply it for the transportation of the relevant yellow coral in the Marmara Sea across two islands 13 kilometers apart.
Last year, the association applied to the Agricultural and Forestry Ministry to obtain the necessary permission for the relevant process. Over nine months, pieces belonging to a colony of 90 corals have been moved from the Sivriada reef and transported to the Tavşan Island reef.
Istanbul University Faculty of Aquatic Sciences academic Dr. Nur Eda Topçu Eryalçın told daily Hürriyet the transportation process was 90 percent successful. “After exchanging ideas with the team that had conducted the transportation in Spain, we determined the area to which we would transport the coral. The divers have taken pieces from coral colonies located about 20-25 meters in sea depth and placed them in jars. We then placed the corals on rock surfaces in an area off Balıkçı Island with a special glue,” Dr. Eryalçın said.
The project head Volkan Narcı said the process was a first for Turkey as there had been no other live coral transportation in the sea. Narcı said they are currently undertaking “routine checks” every month to inspect the coral. “Once a month we inspect the coral. We check them to see if there is bacteria on them. We measure and photograph them. Then we send the collected data to the university and they evaluate it,” he said.
Serco Eksiyan is one of the divers who inspected the condition of the coral last week by diving into the Marmara Sea. “Within the context of the ‘saving coral project,’ I have done about 50 dives so far. The transported coral seems to be in very good condition. We will send the images we have recorded and the data we have collected to the universities,” Eksiyan said.
In addition, as part of the project, pieces from another group of 200 coral will be transported again to Tavşan Island. The project will receive financial support from the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) and launch in September.
“The more transportation we do, the better it is. Also, the coral colonies from which we take pieces, stay in their places. We do not damage the coral colonies during the transfer process,” Dr. Eryalçın said.
Narcı said they were in search of funding options for the project to be continued in the long-term.
“We need to create long-term projects to save the coral. The biggest threat for the corals are seine vessels. We want the area to which we make the transportation to be declared as a protection area and to be closed off to fishing,” Narcı said.