The Black Sea

The Black Sea is an incredible body of water that long gets overlooked by travelers. Its geographic location and ecological traits make it very unique and beckons attention. Its sheer depth and circumference may impress any but the real wonders lie deep within the water.

After tunneling through the Pontic Alps we finally descended on the eastern edges of the Turkish Black Sea In Hopa. From here we would be spending the next three days soaking in the serenity of the sea while driving the coast west toward Samsun. Immediately we found a plaji on the side of the road and beelined for the water. The beating sun made the turquoise water shimmer as each gentle wave crashed along the crushed pebble shore.

Either naivety or ignorance soared through my veins for I jumped in without a second thought. Held under the assumption that our waters were safe, clean and protected throughout the world. Not realizing that the Black Sea was/is a glorified toilet, a large trashcan for the surrounding nations to dump their garbage. As we drove a six hour stretch along the southern shores of the sea it was clear that environmentalism has not reached this area of the world yet. Piles of rubbish lined the coast like a vast endemic sea of negligence.

Within ten minutes we filled multiple bags with water bottles, micro plastics, foam board and residential waste. We even found and pulled out a large rug. Wherever we go we notice the inexhaustible footprint of man in this world. It lingers, tragically; our Earth plagued by our arrogance as a species.

The Black Sea is the largest example of an anoxic body of water found anywhere in the world. The upper 500′ of the Sea is filled with marine life, oxygen, and theoretically could be a clean, safe and beautiful body of water to bathe in, but after a certain depth the Oxygen is reduced to zero. Meaning no life can sustain it and the process of decomposition is incredibly slowed down. Scientists have recently discovered a ship from the Byzantine Era that still has yet to decompose. Wooden framework still intact, notch marks and full details of workmanship. Pottery has been found without the slightest adversity, no barnacles or other natural degradation.

If the process of decomposition is this slow, how long will our trash linger in its depths? If a water bottle on land takes up to 450 years to break down, how long will it take in the Black Sea? 2000 years? 5000 years? Are we really risking to find out? Pharmaceuticals, cosmetic chemicals and raw sewage are known to flow into the sea from the northern nations. The only drainage of the Sea is through the Bosporus Straight in between the city of Istanbul which then leads into the Sea of Marmara and into the Mediterranean. Those postcard, picture perfect waters are in threat from the garbage and eternal waste from Europe. More importantly, the marine life are in constant threat.

Actions in the European Union have been taken recently to clean up the Danube River (a major tributary to the Black Sea) but it isn’t enough. Our world needs full autonomy to rid the waste that we leave behind. No one is removed from the ongoing threat to our world, we must all stand up to make a change for our environment. No action is too small, if you see trash on land or water, dispose of it properly!

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