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Sciences

Limnos Mucilage Tests Encouraging, Turkey Cites Black Sea States

ΑΤΗΕΝS — Greece’s Ministry for the Environment and Energy reported this week that the initial results of an investigation into marine mucilage or ‘sea snot’ observed near the island of Limnos are encouraging.

“There is no cause for concern for swimmers while in recent days [the mucilage] has disappeared from the shores of the island,” experts found, according to Kathimerini, which further reported that “analyses found that the growth was the result of a mild eutrophication and did not contain any toxic microorganisms,” reporting also that “the mucilage dissipated as a result of recent winds.”

The investigators, Greek government environmental inspectors, used drones in cooperation with the Greek Coast Guard and the examination of the mucilage began last Friday.

“Initial findings reveal that the mucilage has the texture of a thick gel, is light beige-gray in color, is odorless and floats on the surface of water. It also does not dissolve in water. The floating mass moves depending on the direction of the wind and sea currents and is not found on all the island’s shores,” Kathimerini noted.

The samples taken from beaches will be examined  at the Demokritos National Centre of Scientific Research, the Greek Biotope/Wetland Centre (EKBY), and the Laboratory of Marine Toxic Microalgae of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Scientists will test for phytoplankton and toxins on Saturday, with results expected within 24 hours. 

Environment and Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas and Shipping and Island Policy Minister Giannis Plakiotakis “established a committee to monitor and coordinate activities regarding the eutrophication phenomenon around Limnos,” Kathimerini noted, adding that tests are also “underway to establish whether the marine mucilage found in the northern Aegean island of Limnos is associated with the sea snot that has built up in Turkish waters in the Sea of Marmara in recent weeks.”

TURKEY SAYS MAIN SOURCE OF PROBLEM IS UP NORTH

The Turkish government is taking action and pointing fingers. The newspaper Hurriyet reported that “in line with Turkey’s comprehensive sea cleaning effort to clear up mucilage from the Marmara Sea, the Environment and Urbanization Ministry have temporarily closed a fertilizer factory in the northwestern province of Balıkesir’s Bandırma district after footage showing the factory discharging untreated wastewater into the sea went viral on social media and triggered a public outcry.”

On June 6 Turkish officials announced a 22 point action plan to clear the recent massive surge in mucilage covering dangerously large parts of surface of the Sean Marmara.

“The plan entails expanding the reuse of treated wastewater wherever possible and the application of clean production techniques,” according to Hurriyet.

The newspaper, which backs Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoman, also noted, however, “the startling results of a study investigating the Danube River’s share of the pollution. The pollution reaching the Black Sea from the Danube and the Marmara Sea from there is 10 times more than the urban pollution load of Istanbul, according to a study by İzzet Öztürk and Büşra Çiçekalan from Istanbul Technical University. The report points out that the countries along the Danube basin reduced their consumption of phosphorus and nitrogen fertilizers after the disintegration of the USSR, but the risk still persists.”

“Meanwhile,” noted Hurriyet, “teams collected over 2,166 cubic meters of mucilage from the Marmara Sea over the past five days, said Murat Kurum, Turkey’s environment and urbanization minister.”

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