Syrian oil leak threatens marine life on Turkish coasts
Stressing that marine life in Turkey’s southern coasts is under huge threat, experts pointed out that oil wastes that continue to spread in the Mediterranean Sea may hit the shores next week.
Stating that it was suspected that the oil slick would move towards Cyprus, Sedat Gündoğdu, an expert from Çukurova University, noted that the wastes reached the Samandağ coast of Hatay due to a whirlpool off the island.
He said that it takes about 10 days for something pouring into the sea from Syria to reach the Turkish shores.
Gündoğdu added that the slick can reach the shores of Adana first and then Antalya since 10 days have passed after the leak.
He said authorities may at least collect the waste with surface cleaning vessels, adding that the direction of the slick can only be changed with barriers, which is not a definitive solution to prevent an environmental disaster.
“We are facing a situation that threatens marine life,” Gündoğdu said, adding that the slick may cause serious problems in the marine ecosystem and leading mass fish deaths or sinking to the seabed and destroying life there.
On Aug. 23, a fuel tank containing roughly 12,000 cubic meters of fuel at Syria’s depleted Baniyas thermal power plant began to leak into the Mediterranean Sea.
Sinan Can, the head of the Mersin Branch of the Chamber of Environmental Engineers, pointed out that a possible oil-derived pollution will cause crucial problems on the Mediterranean coasts.
“If petroleum-derived materials are seen in Mersin and there is a serious surface-covering situation, fishing activities will be interrupted,” Can noted, underlining that Mersin is a significant fishing city.
Noting that the oil spill threatens marine life in the Mediterranean Sea, WWF Turkey General Manager Aslı Pasinli stressed eastern Mediterranean coasts are among the places that could be affected by the oil spill spreading.
Pasinli said the Mersin, Adana and Hatay coasts are the most intense nesting areas for endangered green sea turtles in the Mediterranean basin.
Baby turtles hatch from their eggs and reach the sea until October, she added.
“Iskenderun Bay is important for fisheries, and oil pollution is a serious threat to fishermen in this region. A serious threat to marine protected areas on the eastern Mediterranean coasts,” she noted.