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WHY THE BLACK SEA IS CALLED THE “BLACK SEA”?

WHY THE BLACK SEA IS CALLED THE “BLACK SEA”?


PROF WAQAR HUSSAIN

       The Black Sea is a turban shaped sea lying on the head of Turkey. It is lying between South Eastern Europe and Asia with area of 436400km2 and have maximum depth of 2212m.It is surrounded by six different countries Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia and Georgia.
There are many hypotheses about the name of the Black Sea.

1) In ancient time, various colours were assigned to different directions; black for north, red for south, yellow for east and white for west. As it was located in the north of the Mediterranean Sea for which the ancients believed to be situated in the middle of the earth. So it was called Black Sea meaning a sea in the north.

2) The Black Sea's deep waters are much less saline as a result the microalgae concentration is much richer, causing the colour to become darker. 

3) Bulgarian view about the name is that the sea used to be quite stormy. Some sources stipulate that it goes back to the time of Noah's Ark. The Black Sea deluge theory is based on that idea. This idea further says that the Mt. Ararat is standing in the eastern Turkey along the coastline of the Black Sea is considered to be the landing point for Noah’s Ark.

4) According to naval science, the Black Sea has hydrogen sulphide(H2S) layer at depth of about 200 meters that supports a unique microbial population which produces black sediments probably due to Anaerobic Methane oxidation or it may be the combination of hydrogen sulphide with metallic ion to form metal sulphides. And sulphide of many metals are black like FeS, CuS,HgS, PbS, Bi2S3,etc.  For this black sedimentation, it got the name Black Sea.
5) There is lack of oxygen in the water that prevents the development of microorganisms, making it appearance black.  Black Sea has meromictic(having layer of water that don’t mix.) basin. It means the movement of water between the lower and upper layers of water is very least. It results in acute shortage of oxygen in the lower layer. The lower layers absolute free of oxygen and hence, inactive.


6) It is called the Black sea because it was a Sea of Death. In past, Sailors who caught in a storm usually died because of the absence of islands at which to harbour and the fierceness of the storms. 

7) The intense fog develops over the Black Sea especially in winter that absorbs the light, thus making the water appear black. . Visibility in the Black Sea is about five meters as compared to thirty-five meters in the Mediterranean Sea.

8) At a certain depth its waters become toxic and poisonous. Black means death or devastation. So, its poisonous nature earned the name Black Sea. 

9). The Black Sea got its name from the Ottoman Turks. 'Kara (Black)' denotes 'North' in Medieval Turkish, as in Kara Denizi- Kara Sea north of Siberian Yakut Turks, similar to Black Sea. 


10) The Black Sea was called "inhospitable sea" before Greek colonization of the area as it was difficult to navigate and its shores were inhabited by savage tribes. Once Greeks made navigation very easy, the name changed to the “hospitable sea.”
11) It is believed that the dead lay safely beneath the water of the Black Sea. Remains of ships and humans and other decomposable materials like ropes, wood, wreckages, etc can still be found at the bed of this sea even after hundreds of years. It is due to anoxic (oxygen less) nature of the lower water layers of this sea, the process of decomposition, which require oxygen, is negligibly slow, hence, the remains of the dead persist  inside the sea’s water. For dead, it common to denote the word black. So it was name the Black Sea.
 CONCLUSION

   The black sea is a strongly stratified body of water because its upper layer is less saline than deep water layer. The upper layer is dilute (less saline) due to fresh water in flow of the river mainly Danube and other rivers. The deep layer is concentrated (more saline) due to inflow of sea water from the Aegean Sea through the lower part of the Bosporus strait. The difference of densities of upper and lower layer retards vertical mixing in the black sea. Consequently, little atmosphere oxygen reaches the deeper layer which becomes anoxic (oxygen less). This anoxic lower layer allows organic rich sediment to accumulate on the bed of the Black sea without decomposition as oxygen is required for decomposition. This sedimentation also contains Iron sulphide (black coloured solid) and other sulphide which are mostly black. This black sedimentation makes the appearance darker. That is why the Black Sea is not blue rather murkier that other seas. Then, it has no major connection to any other bigger seas/ocean so dead fish; corals, etc. just sit on the floor and makes its appearance murkier.  

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