Turkey — A foul mucus has blanketed the Sea of Marmara, a body of water that connects the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea in the Mediterranean. This has been the situation in Turkey for months, and it has heavily affected the fishing industry of the country. The said mucus is also threatening the shellfish in the area. The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoǧan describes this as a “mucilage calamity”, but this might be something worse.
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The slime is, in short, a national crisis. Turkey is now trying to vacuum up its embarrassment of sea snot, dispatching workers with hoses to collect mucus by the tons for incineration. But scientists say that much more is probably lurking under the water. And even worse, the floating mucus is a sign of much larger disruptions in the sea. As unsightly as sea snot might be, its most devastating effects happen far away from human eyes, deep below the surface.
Slime in the sea is not inherently unusual. “Mucus is everywhere,” says Michael Stachowitsch, a marine ecologist at the University of Vienna. “There’s no marine organism that doesn’t produce mucus, from the lowly snail to the slimy fish.” But in healthy waters, mucus doesn’t amass to epic proportions. The current sea-snot outbreak can be blamed on phytoplankton, a type of algae that produces the small bits of mucus that turn into flakes of marine snow. When these phytoplankton receive an infusion of imbalanced nutrients from fertilizer runoff or untreated wastewater, they make an overabundance of mucus. Beads of that mucus accumulate into stringers, which accumulate into clouds, which accumulate into the unending sheets now washing up on Turkey’s coast.
Vacuuming up the mucus on the surface probably isn’t enough to solve Turkey’s sea snot problem.
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Now this is terrifying.
(Image Credit: DW News/ YouTube)