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Marine mucilage

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Marine mucilage

Sea snot or marine mucilage is a collection of mucus-like organic matter found in the sea. Sea snot forms when globs of marine snow coagulate into large globs that can span distances as large as 124 miles.[1] Sea snot is also produced by phytoplankton when they are stressed. [2] They are described as "jello-like sheets of disease-carrying mucus" that are spreading across the Mediterranean Sea.[3] A recent increase in the amount of sea snot in the Mediterranean and other seas may be the result of climate change. Warmer, slower moving waters increase the production of sea snot and allow it to accumulate in massive blobs.[4] Sea snot was first reported in 1729 and has long been seen as a nuisance to the fishing industry and costal populations.[4] However, sea snot has emerged as serious hazard. Globs of sea snot can harbor bacteria such as E. coli that threaten maritime flora and fauna as well as humans exposed to contaminated water.[5] It is formed from the aggregation of "marine snow". The mucilage has many components, including a wide range of microorganisms including viruses and prokaryotes, and exopolymeric compounds with colloidal properties.[6] It is widely believed that the Sea Snot left by the BP oil spill directly resulted in the loss of sealife in the Gulf of Mexico, citing a dead field of deepwater coral 11 kilometers away from the Deepwater Horizion station.[7]

The BP oil spill created large amounts of sea snot. Scientists are not sure how exactly the spill caused so much sea snot to form, but one theory asserts that the sea snot could have been the result of a massive kill of microscopic marine life creating a "blizzard" of marine snow. Moreover, scientists worry that the mass of sea snot could pose a biohazard to surviving marine life in the area.[8]

See also

References

Gilson, David. "Blue Marble." Mother Jones. N.p., 13 Oct. 2009. Web. 22 May 2013. http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2009/10/sea-snot-climate-change


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