Why Was Mucilage Seen in the Sea of Marmara?

Mucilage is a problem that can be observed not only in the Sea of Marmara but also in many seas. However, the Sea of Marmara has an oceanographic structure suitable for mucilage formation.

There are various reasons for mucilage occurrence in the Sea of Marmara, but three main triggering factors stand out: the original oceanographic features of the sea, increased pollution, and the rise in sea surface temperatures.

The structure of the Sea of Marmara is unique because it is an inland sea where the waters of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea mix. These two water masses do not mix, and their mixing depths are different, providing the sea with a stable structure.

In the Sea of Marmara, temperature stratification and differences in salinity limit vertical mixing in the sea. If sea surface temperatures are high, and there is an excess of nutrient load from pollution, the likelihood of mucilage formation increases.

The reason for the intensification of mucilage in 2021 is the effective increase in sea surface temperatures. However, it was known that the mucilage problem existed, and this triple triggering factor had been ongoing for a long time.

For mucilage formation to begin, sea conditions need to be relatively more stagnant. In 2021, when the amount of water coming from the Black Sea was minimized, and climate conditions followed a stagnant course, mucilage formation increased.

In conclusion, the emergence of mucilage is the result of long-term factors, including climate change. Instead of attributing this situation solely to climate change, we should make more efforts to reduce pollution. Scientists have highlighted this problem for years, but the necessary actions have not been taken. Therefore, it is important not to forget that pollution and human impact also bear responsibility, in addition to climate change.

Extracted from Prof. Dr. Mustafa Sarı’s book “Mucilage: Elegy or Hope?”