Teams start clearing Turkish shores of sea snot
Efforts began at many locations to fight the mucilage problem as Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum examined the ongoing research aboard the Bilim-2 (Science-2) research vessel of the Middle East Technical University (METU) in northwestern Kocaeli province.
The teams started work from the Caddebostan coast in the Kadıköy district of Istanbul to get rid of the mucilage covering Turkish shores since February.
They laid a barrier on the sea to let the mucilage accumulate at one point before transferring them to storage tanks to dispose of later.
Mehmet Tamer Cobanoglu, an official from the Directorate General of Environment Management, said: "As of today, we started cleaning efforts for the mucilage problem in the Marmara Sea."
He said the efforts would be expanded to other areas.
Mucilage, also known colloquially as sea snot, is the overgrowth of microscopic algae called phytoplankton. The thick, mucus-like slimy layer contains a variety of microorganisms and is caused by an increase in seawater temperature due to global warming, stillness at sea, and pollution.
Samples of the substance have been collected from 91 points, Kurum said while on the Bilim-2, which he said could extract and analyze all manner of samples.
Barış Salihoğlu, director of METU's Institute of Marine Sciences, said they were mapping the ecological situation of the Sea of Marmara.
Salihoğlu said they were examining the causes and development of the mucilage and working in cooperation with the ministry to find solutions and convey them to Minister Kurum.
"We're taking samples and we'll collect them from nearly 100 points," he said, adding that they were conducting a modeling study to create a high-resolution digital twin of the sea.
Fieldworks have also started to bring marine mucilage in the Marmara Sea into the economy.
Samples were taken by Bursa Metropolitan Municipality and Bursa Technical University (BTU) in order to use marine mucilage or sea snot, which spreads in large areas in the Sea of Marmara, in different fields, especially agriculture.
According to a statement by the municipality, a commission was established under Bursa Metropolitan Municipality Environmental Protection and Control Department to identify the factors causing the formation of mucilage, to find solutions, and prepare a "Bursa Marine Pollution Prevention Action Plan”.
Mucilage collected from the sea will be converted into fertilizers or different products and brought into the national economy.
Such substances increase productivity in soil
Mete Yılmaz, project leader and head of Bioengineering Department at Bursa Technical University, sailed to the Marmara Sea from Mudanya district of Bursa province with the municipality’s sea cleaning vehicles and collected samples for studies going on in the laboratory for a while.
In a statement, Yılmaz said they were examining the changes in water quality by comparing the samples taken after the mucilage started to appear and the samples after the cleaning work by the Bursa Metropolitan Municipality.
Stating that they would process the mucilage collected through various purification stages at the laboratory and remove salt and other substances, Yılmaz said: “We only obtain the polysaccharide substance formed by these micro-organisms. We've done these on a laboratory scale. Now we're running toxicological tests for it. We want to use it primarily in agriculture after passing various reliability tests. Because we know that such substances have the properties to increase productivity in agriculture and soil.”
He added: “Such substances have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. We want to examine whether we can use them as biopesticides, that is, as a product against existing pests in agriculture.”
Yıldız Odaman Cindoruk, head of the Environmental Protection and Control Department of Bursa Metropolitan Municipality, emphasized that the municipality has made very important investments, from advanced biological treatment plants to sea and beach cleaning, in order to prevent pollution in the Sea.
Cindoruk said their aim is to prevent the formation of mucilage and to evaluate it after it is formed.