Water Quality and Marine Biodiversity in Marine Specially Protected Areas

Marine Biodiversity Assessment in Datca-Bozburun SPA (Researcher) (2002-2005)

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Funded by the Ministry of Environment Turkey, the marine biodiversity in Datca-Bozburun Marine Specially Protected Area was studied. This SPA has the longest shoreline (417 km) among other SPA’s in Turkey. The project lasted for 3 years and a total of 7 oceanographic expeditions were completed during this study.

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Overall,  32 water quality parameters were analyzed at 73 sampling points and 1163 dives (332 skin and 831 SCUBA) were performed for marine biodiversity assessment purposes.

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The SPA had rich biodiversity compared to other SPA’s in the Mediterranean region.

 

Among 807 species identified, 35 were under protection according to national and international agreements (Bern, Barcelona, Red List).

Several water quality related problems were identified during this study. High levels of turbidity, nutrients and fecal indicator bacteria were detected in many coastal  embayments with heavy  human activities  (i.e. settlements, yacht tourism and aquaculture). Nutrient concentrations, particularly phosphorus was 10 times higher at sampling points close to towns.  Dissolved oxygen concentrations decreased to denitrification level around aquaculture facilities.

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Seagrass coverage was also studied in this project. Posedonia oceanica coverage was estimated as 41.2 km2 and was the healthiest at points with limited human activities. A marine invasive species; Caulerpa racemosa was the second most common photosynthetic organism in this SPA. The coverage was estimated as 8.7 km2. The distribution of C. racemosa was the greatest at points where  P. oceanica was deteriorated the most.


Marine Biodiversity Assessment in Gokova SPA (Researcher) (2005-2006)

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Funded by the Ministry of Environment Turkey, this project was conducted at Gokova SPA. This area has 193 km shoreline and the project was completed in two years. A total 64 sampling points were analyzed for  32 water quality parameters. Also, 437 dives (128 skin and 309 SCUBA) were performed for marine biodiversity assessment.

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Main water quality problems were, high levels of turbidity, nutrients and fecal indicator bacteria (FIB)  at coastal  embayments with settlements, yacht tourism and aquaculture.

 

Increased concentrations of FIB, turbidity, total suspended solids and depleted levels of oxygen (often at denitrification level) were detected around aquaculture facilities.

Among 684 species identified, 20 of them were new records for the literature and 26 of them were under protection according to national and international agreements (Bern, Barcelona, Red List).

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Overall, 79% tourism activities were recorded within the SPA and seagrass Posedonia oceanica shoot coverage decreased from 80% to 20% within areas with heavy human  activities.

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At the end of this project, the Ministry of Environment banned aquaculture facilities at shorelines and moved them to open waters in the Aegean Sea.