Photographer Muhammed Enes Yildirim
Agency Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
THE striking swirls in this shot of the Sea of Marmara, in north-west Turkey, represent one of the latest examples of the destructive effects of pollution.
Last month, photographer Muhammed Enes Yildirim used a drone to capture these mesmerising patterns, which are formed by what is known as marine mucilage. Also called sea snot, it is a mixture of mucus and various microorganisms, including phytoplankton.
When these microorganisms receive extra nutrients – from untreated waste water, for example – they multiply and make an excessive amount of mucus, which clumps together to form the thick swathes.
Although marine mucilage has routinely plagued Turkey’s waters since 2007, this year it stretches from the surface down to about 30 metres, in what is the largest and most damaging example yet. Thousands of cubic metres have already been collected.
The marine mucilage has become a huge environmental problem in recent months as it has grown, suffocating marine life beneath and disrupting fishing and tourism.
Lockdowns due to covid-19 resulted in more domestic waste water and detergent being released into the sea, making clean-up efforts more challenging.
Researchers predict that ongoing climate change will worsen the situation, as warming seas cause more algal “blooms” and so more marine mucilage.
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