With the project, which was prepared in cooperation with Bursa Technical University (BTU) Maritime Faculty and Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences and was entitled to receive support within the scope of TÜBİTAK 1001 Mucilage Research Special Call, the effect of maritime transport-related pollution on mucilage formation in the Marmara Sea will be investigated.
Stating that mucilage, which has recently emerged in the Marmara and North Aegean regions of our country and seriously threatens the marine ecosystem, is the result of the combination of more than one external factor by different microorganisms, the project coordinator Prof. Dr. Sinan Uyanık said, “We think that factors such as the structural features of the Marmara Sea, climate change, the deterioration of the food chain in the marine ecosystem, and the entry of pollution into the sea from terrestrial and marine activities cause mucilage. Among these factors, climate change and the structural features of the Sea of Marmara are not factors that we can intervene in the first place in preventing mucilage. However, we can prevent excessive and wrong fishing, which can be effective in the formation of mucilage, and pollution from terrestrial and marine activities that cause an increase in nutrients mixed into the sea.
Noting that untreated or insufficiently treated urban and industrial wastewater and agricultural activities in general cause an increase in the nutrient elements that enter the seas, Uyanık said, “On the other hand, pollutants originating from ships used for maritime trade are an important factor in marine pollution factors. Considering the maritime trade routes, we see that the line including the Sea of Marmara, where Turkey is also the main route, is used quite extensively for maritime transport. At this point, we should not ignore the pollution caused by ships. Unsuitable discharge of water polluted by petroleum derivatives accumulating under the machinery, discharge of water used in ballast operations, discharge of domestic waste water, discharge of machinery cooling water of ships into the sea, improper discharge of warehouse and tank washing waters polluted with oil and oil into the sea, practices such as improper disposal are polluting activities resulting from maritime transport. Of these, ballast waters should be especially examined because of the risk of carrying too much volumetrically, polluting, invasive species and harmful microorganisms from the farthest ends of the world to different points. Although it is prohibited, the delivery of bilge water to the receiving environment without treatment is one of the important factors that should be evaluated in terms of pollution load, since it has very high pollutant concentrations.
Noting that they will investigate whether phytoplankton and bacteria known to cause mucilage, and pollutants carried by bilge and ballast waters within the scope of the project, will be effective in the formation of mucilage emerging in the Marmara Sea, Uyanık said: By determining the general physico-chemical pollutant parameters and the amounts of algal and bacterial populations in the bilge and ballast waters, we will see how many pollutants come to the Marmara Sea from maritime transport, and how these pollutants and incoming living organisms affect the formation of mucilage.
Noting that after the data collection studies to be carried out at the beginning of the project, they will determine the main routes formed by the ships docking at the ports in the Marmara Sea, Uyanık said, “Physico-chemical pollutant and microbiological characterization of the bilge and ballast waters to be taken from a significant number of ships that dock at Gemlik Port from these routes will be carried out. By making use of physico-chemical pollutants and water amounts, pollutant load calculations will be made and compared with terrestrial pollutant loads coming to the Marmara sea basin. In the microbiological characterization studies, the algal species in the bilge and ballast waters will be determined. The number and diversity of phytoplankton (microalgae) transported to Marmara by bilge and ballast waters will be determined by taxonomic studies.” he said.
Conducted by BTU Prof. Dr. In the project research team made by Sinan Uyanık, BTU Faculty Members Prof. Dr. Mete Yilmaz, Assoc. Dr. Erinç Dobrucalı, Assoc. Dr. Gökçe Çiçek Ceyhun, Assoc. Dr. Deniz Ucar, Dr. Instructor Member Volkan Altuntaş and Assoc. Dr. Muharrem Balci.