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Impact of excessive sedimentation caused by anthropogenic activities on benthic suspension feeders in the Sea of Marmara

  • Nur Eda Topçu (a1), Emre Turgay (a2), Remziye Eda Yardımcı (a2), Bülent Topaloğlu (a1) (a3), Ahsen Yüksek (a4), Terje M. Steinum (a5), Süheyla Karataş (a2) and Bayram Öztürk (a1) (a3)...


A massive die-off of benthic suspension feeders (BSF) covered by large amounts of sediments was observed along Prince Islands coasts (north-eastern Sea of Marmara) in August 2015. Alcyonarians, pennatulaceans, bivalves and sponges were severely affected. Many BSF probably died from burial and clogging of their feeding and respiratory apparatus. Of the gorgonian colonies, 66 ± 34% (mean ± SD) were dead, while 15 ± 16% (mean ± SD) displayed recent necrosis on the colony surface. In addition, histopathological and microbial examinations of the affected gorgonians and gold corals (Savalia savaglia) suggest that stress caused by sedimentation made them vulnerable to exploitation by consistently isolated opportunistic microorganisms. We isolated Vibrio splendidus and Vibrio neptunius from diseased gold coral colonies, but the bacterial isolates obtained from gorgonians could only be identified to genus Vibrio level. The presumably artificially introduced fungus Mucor circinelloides was common on both gold coral and gorgonians. This mould and opportunistic bacteria may have colonized BSF by taking advantage of low oxygen levels leading to impaired coral immune responses and thereby exacerbated the BSF mortality. Construction and landfill operations at Yassıada seem to be the greatest contributor to the observed sedimentation, as shown by silicate concentrations in nearby waters. These observations imply that preventive measures are necessary when construction operations take place in the vicinity of sensitive marine habitats.


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Author for correspondence: Nur Eda Topçu, E-mail: and Emre Turgay, E-mail:


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Impact of excessive sedimentation caused by anthropogenic activities on benthic suspension feeders in the Sea of Marmara

  • Nur Eda Topçu (a1), Emre Turgay (a2), Remziye Eda Yardımcı (a2), Bülent Topaloğlu (a1) (a3), Ahsen Yüksek (a4), Terje M. Steinum (a5), Süheyla Karataş (a2) and Bayram Öztürk (a1) (a3)...


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