An expanded Suez Canal scheduled to open on Aug. 6 will pose great risks to the ecosystem of the Mediterranean Sea, a Turkish nongovernmental organization has warned.
The Turkish Marine Research Foundation claims that the Mediterranean Sea, in which Turkey boasts a long border, will see "a biological invasion" of non-indigenous species after the opening of an expanded lane to Egypt's Suez Canal.
The expansion of Suez, wrapped up in one year, adds a lane to shorten waiting times for vessels about to enter the canal, straddling through the desert.
The foundation's president, Professor Bayram Öztürk, said a 72-kilometer long, 30-meter deep expansion will inflict unprecedented damage to the Mediterranean Sea by causing the migration of Red Sea fauna to the Mediterranean. "The Suez Canal is a main gateway for (non-indigenous) species into the Mediterranean. More than 350 species are already spread across the sea. These invading species, ranging from fish to shrimp and jellyfish, have already affected the biodiversity here. For instance, rhopilema nomadica, a jellyfish originating from the Red Sea is now prevalent in the eastern Mediterranean. Its damage includes an impact on fishing - as it damages fishing nets - and injury to swimmers. Egypt should take measures against these invading species," he said. Öztürk said the increasing salinity of lakes across the canal may provide a natural barrier against the invasion.
Scientists have already called the United Nations to exert pressure on Egypt to tackle the environmental concerns regarding the expansion into consideration. Marine biologists have pointed out that species have already entered the Suez Canal that are poisonous and threatening to human health and directly destroyed the habitats of the local fauna. A pufferfish entering the Suez Canal has led to a string of injuries among swimmers in eastern Mediterranean towns over the past decade.
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