Live

Watch CBSN Live

Turkish leader vows to tackle outbreak of "sea snot" blamed on pollution and climate change

Sir David Attenborough on 60 Minutes
Sir David Attenborough on 60 Minutes 13:39

Istanbul — Turkey's president has promised to rescue the Marmara Sea from an outbreak of "sea snot" that is alarming marine biologists and environmentalists. A huge mass of marine mucilage, a thick, slimy substance made up of compounds released by marine organisms, has bloomed in Turkey's Marmara, as well as in the adjoining Black and Aegean Seas.

TOPSHOT-TURKEY-SEA-ENVIRONMENT
An aerial photograph taken on June 4, 2021 in Turkey's Marmara Sea at a harbor on the shoreline of Istanbul shows "sea snot," or mucilage, a jelly-like layer of slime that develops on the surface of water due to excessive proliferation of phytoplankton, gravely threatening the marine biome. YASIN AKGUL/AFP/Getty

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that untreated waste dumped into the Marmara Sea and climate change had caused the sea snot bloom. Istanbul, Turkey's largest city with some 16 million residents, and five other provinces, factories and industrial hubs border the sea.

Marine mucilage has reached unprecedented levels this year in Turkey. It is visible above the water as a slimy grey sheet along the shores of Istanbul and neighboring provinces. Underwater videos showed suffocated coral covered with sea snot. 

White layer formed on the sea in Anatolian side of Istanbul
An aerial view of "sea snot" near Maltepe, Kadikoy and Adalar districts of Istanbul, Turkey, May 02, 2021. Lokman Akkaya/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Erdogan said he instructed the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization to coordinate with relevant institutions, municipalities and universities. Teams are inspecting waste water and solid waste facilities, along with other potential sources of pollution, he said.

"We will save our seas from this mucilage calamity, leading with the Marmara Sea," Erdogan said. "We must take this step without delay."

TOPSHOT-TURKEY-SEA-ENVIRONMENT
An aerial photograph taken on June 6, 2021 in Turkey's Marmara Sea at a harbor on the shoreline of Istanbul shows "sea snot," or mucilage, a jelly-like layer of slime that develops on the surface of the water due to the excessive proliferation of phytoplankton, gravely threatening the marine biome. YASIN AKGUL/AFP/Getty

Marine experts say that human waste and industrial pollution is choking Turkey's seas. They say the rise in water temperatures from climate change is contributing to the problem.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.