Turkey may take 12 years to clear ‘sea snot’ - academic

A leading expert said on Thursday that it could take 12 years to clear the ‘sea snot’ blighting Turkey’s coastline.

A layer of grey slime has increasingly developed over waters in the Marmara Sea in recent months, disfiguring beaches and marinas, and raising environmental concerns in the popular tourist region.

Dr Mustafa Yücel of the marine sciences department at Ankara’s Middle East Technical University told Demirören News Agency the build-up was likely caused by an excess of nitrogen and phosphates in the sea’s ecosystem.

Yücel said the land-based sources of these chemical compounds needed to be drastically cut.

Nitrogen and phosphates are found in domestic sewage and are also used as fertilisers in industrial agriculture.

“We have data and models that show that we can get the Marmara out of this crisis in 5 to 6 years,” the academic said.  "If the measures are sustained, it will take 10 to 12 years for the sea to become healthy."

Asked if the ‘sea snot’ was toxic, Yücel said that as the organic material decays it could produce large quantities of methane and hydrogen sulphide, which poses a risk to fish and even nearby residents.

“You cannot solve this (problem) physically,” he added. “The only solution is to start (counter) measures as soon as possible.”