Yeniyay and Çamburnu, Turkey: A visit to KTU Marine Sciences Faculty and the Kastel of Sürmene

Photo: KTU marine sciences facility on the Black Sea, Turkey. Credit: Lisa Borre.
A grad student at KTU’s Marine Sciences Faculty in Çamburnu showed us the larvae he is researching in the Black Sea. Photo by Lisa Borre.

Black Sea Logbook Entry

Date: 7/13/2010
Distance: 27 nm
Sailed from: Trabzon
Lat: 40° 55.3’N
Long: 40° 11.3’E

After ten days in Trabzon, it was nice to be underway again. Even though we didn’t have much wind, it was a good day for surveying five harbors along the way for the updated cruising guide. We were looking forward to ending the day in Yeniyay, the harbor that the previous cruising guide authors considered as their favorite in all of the Black Sea.

As we approached the breakwaters, something didn’t seem right. It was the first time that the waypoint they provided did not match what we found. A new, much larger harbor had been constructed in the same place, and when we went inside, we found that the old harbor had been completely filled in. The coastal highway was under construction but not yet completed at the time of their visit. Now it dominates the waterfront, and the beach they enjoyed is buried well beneath piles of crushed stone and rip-rap — all in the name of progress. We tied up to the cement quay on the outer breakwater and arranged to meet our local contacts the following day.

When they arrived at Gyatso the next morning, Lisa showed them the cruising guide from 2001, and they found it interesting to note all of the changes that had taken place. She asked, “Is there still a restaurant that serves a good T-bone steak in town?” They looked at each other inquisitively, discussed it for a minute and then replied, “There’s an expensive seafood restaurant that also serves steaks, should we make a lunch reservation?” We declined the offer because we planned to get underway again before lunch, but it might have been a nice dinner option last night had it not been located on the other side of the big new harbor. We were far more interested in visiting the Karadeniz Technical University (KTU) marine sciences program in Çamburnu, so off we went in their car.

Photo: Kastel of Sürmene, Black Sea, Turkey. Credit: Lisa Borre.
The Kastel of Sürmene, one of the finest examples of Ottoman architecture in the Eastern Black Sea. Photo by Lisa Borre.

First, we stopped at the Kastel of Sürmene, one of the finest examples of Ottoman architecture in the Eastern Black Sea. Perched above the shore and only accessible by water when it was built in the 1800’s, the former residence has been carefully restored and is now open to tourists from an exit on the coastal highway.

Since the dean was on holiday, Dr. Ilhan Altinok served as our host at the KTU Marine Sciences Faculty. He introduced us to the professors and students conducting research in various aspects of marine biology of the Black Sea, including aquaculture, fisheries, food web interactions and genetics. Their facility, tucked into a rocky cove with a small beach near the entrance of the ship building harbor was an ideal setting. KTU’s research vessel was moored in the neighboring harbor of Yeniyay on the same quay where Gyatso was tied-up.

Photo: Crew of Gyatso visits KTU marine sciences faculty, Turkey. Credit: Lisa Borre.
David (at right) with faculty at the KTU Marine Sciences Faculty. Photo by Lisa Borre.

The grad students were very generous to explain their research projects to us in English. One showed us the genetic research he is doing to learn more about the health of the hamsi fishery. Another let us look through the microscope at the phytoplankton, zooplankton and bacteria that were the subjects of her research. Others showed us the tanks of trout, sea bass and sturgeon where they are researching the viability of aquaculture in the Black Sea watershed.

The laboratories were state-of-the-art with all of the latest and greatest laboratory equipment. It was great to see the students and professors at KTU’s Marine Sciences Faculty intellectually engaged and enthusiastic to learn more about the Black Sea ecosystem, however, we also learned that they face the same challenges to secure adequate financial support as most research institutions working to better understand environmental issues. We hope their important work continues to be rewarded in the future.

They returned us to Gyatso, and we were underway again at noon.