Water quality in Bosphorus improves as people stay home

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This photograph taken on September 28, 2018, shows a fisherman at work beside waterside mansions on the Bosphorus River coast on the Asian side of Istanbul. They are among the most iconic sights of Istanbul -- magnificent waterside mansions strung out along the Bosphorus as the waters of the strait dividing Europe and Asia lap almost at their front doors. Once the preserve of the Ottoman elite and affluent foreigners working in what was Constantinople, these mansions, known as yalis, were made famous in novels and more recently modern Turkey's hugely successful soap operas. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE

Water quality in Istanbul’s Bosphorus Strait between the European and Asian sides of the city has improved significantly as people stayed at home and fewer vessels, inter-city ferries traveled on the sea during the coronavirus lockdowns.

A crew from Milliyet daily dived up to 18 meters below with experts off the shores of Istanbul and examined the latest situation under the sea.

As the clarity of the water were noticeable around the Maiden’s Tower with a few medical wastes thrown into the sea such as protective face masks and plastic gloves

However, crabs, starfishes, mussels, sea snails and small flocks of fish were seen on the sea meadows around the iconic tower.

The underwater visibility has increased to five and six meters in the same area, while plankton density was low, according to the first observations.

The biggest reason for the clarity in the Bosphorus is that the pace of life has slowed down due to the COVID-19 process, said Meriç Albay, an academic from Istanbul University who participated in the dive.

A lull in boat traffic and a ban on fishing in the city forced by the lockdown has noticeably improved the water quality.

Stressing that less industrial waste dumped into the Marmara Sea lately, Albay noted that the decline in the sea traffic also had a positive effect.

“We believe that the current situation will have a positive impact on the Marmara Sea ecosystem for at least one year, and will contribute to biodiversity and fish stocks,” Albay said, adding that reduced human pressure has a constructive effect on sea water quality.

Albay , however, warned about the possibility of medical wastes drifting towards the open sea with strong streams.

During the lockdown, before Turkey went ahead with its normalization plan , a pod of dolphins were spotted swimming in Istanbul waters many times.

The visibility of the dolphins is seen as an indicator of a healthy maritime ecosystem as the mammals are fighting for survival.

Hurriyet Daily News

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