(1) Published date: 8:00AM BST 01 Aug 2010
‘Undersea river discovered flowing on sea bed’, by Richard Gray, Science

(2) Published date: 09:59 EEST 02 Aug 2010
‘The sixth largest river flows under the Bosphorus’

(3) Published date: 16:02 EEST 03 Aug 2010
‘We knew about the river under the Bosphorus’

In publication (1) and numerous news and internet channels which have
accepted it as source, it has been stated, with a note on exaggerated
effects, that the British scientists have discovered one of the largest
rivers of the world under the Bosphorus and its extension towards the
Black Sea. As far as we could determine, this misleading news item
(asparagas in Turkish communication jargon) has been echoed throughout the
world, and has successfully made its way to channels from the USA all the
way to Pacific islands. Article (2) copied from Telegraph and published by
the NTVMSNBC news channel, and press agencies simply copying it from them
without any inquiry of truth of the news item have spread the article with
titles such as ‘fantastic discovery’.

In reality, the subject matter is not new at all, It has been fully
investigated and exposed by Turkish national research groups, and
especially by the IMS-METU, in research activities carried out since a
couple of decades. Anyone with interest can reach the information through
national agencies and publications in international domain. Whether or not
the study results released to the media by British scientists in advance
of publication contribute anything new is not known at this stage since
there is no scientific interpretation of data made available. As a result,
it is possibly true to say that the news is in fact nothing but

It is of course natural that concerned parties which have been involved in
research in the Bosphorus, the Turkish Straits System or the Black Sea
have been trying to correct or judge the asparagas news or speak about
about their findings. In news item (3), the Ministry of Environment and
Forestry has issued a statement quoting the waste management studies made
by the Istanbul and Istanbul Technical Universities during the 1990’s,
supported by the Istanbul Municipality (ISKI), but no mention of the
studies continued since the 1980’s by the IMS, Middle East Technical
University, which initially started the investigations under the
Municipality’s extensive projects. These studies were the first of their
kind, allowing experimental / theoretical evaluation of the waste water
systems and a sound understanding of the strait dynamics, based on
sensitive measurements in the very special environmental regime of the

It is with these considerations that this press release was issued.
The IMS-METU has carried out scientific research on the oceanography of
the Mediterranean, Black Seas and the Turkish Straits System since about
35 years, and to this date has searhed for answers to a lot of scientific
questions and environmental risks. It has signifiantly contributed to
science and the society through the results of its research. Through
measurements based on the first time devised scientific methodology after
Galileo, Marsili has managed to show its existence with a scientific

The undercurrent and its extension towards the Black Sea, subject to the
above news article has been known by fishermen since the old ages, and has
been recorded by Procopius in 6th century AD based ontheir accounts.
Research carried out by both national and international scientists to this
day, especially a series of studies carried out by the IMS-METU have
established its structure and variability in all details.

In addition to IMS-METU, a number of other institutions (Istanbul
Technical University, Istanbul University, Turkish Navy Navigation,
Hydography and Oceanography Office) within the scope of development of
marine science in Turkey have conributed significantly with data and
further studies.

The details of the river canyon and delta-like features on the Black Sea
shelf have not been identified until late 1980’s, and the flow in them
have only been described at high resolution after this period by intensive
studies of the IMS-METU involving in-situ measurements on board its
research vesssel, the R/V BILIM and modelling of the flow. All details can
be accessed from old and ongoing publications on the subject.

This information is kindly supplied to the public.

Mail to Telegraph’s editor from Dr. Emin Özsoy

Dear editor:

I have to write to you about this largely misleading and damaging news
item that appeared on 1 August 2010 in the Telegraph. You will find a
press release that was issued to the Anatolian News Agency, which then
appeared in the local press in Turkey, but had no possibility to reach
the thousands of international news spots that your news item
unfortunately but successfully 🙂 had reached. To me as a scientist, and
also to numerous other researchers in the Black Sea and Mediterranean
region who sent me supporting messages, this event showed the misuse of
the power of the international media spreading uncontrolled news
throughout the world like wildfire in a bush. This realization of course
is no relief or remedy, as the issue is really the consequences of
irresponsible reporting, spreading false news and misleading the general
public. This kind of behaviour is especially unacceptable and should not
be tolerated in science reporting.

Scientists of the region have been supporting our objecting to your
news. However, should we take it serious ? – one of the messages from a
colleague said about your news item: “I do not know whether to cry or to
laugh?”. Another colleague promised to publish the press release on the
web site of the Turkish Foundation of Marine Research, and has been sent
the text for display.

Another one said: “I found this piece of ‘news’, which I think Emin and
others at the
Institue would laugh at and say ‘we knew this ages ago’! I remember when
we were on the Bilim trying to survey seafloor at the northern end of
the Bosphrous these channels were
all over the place … that it was often impossible to lower the CTD
into the undercurrent because of the stong flow. May be they should get
copies of those reports that were produced during those years on the
Turkish Straits. Note that some of these ‘grand ayotallahs’ of
geoscience still seem to believe in ‘Noah’s flood, and perhaps the
Noah’s arch on top of Mt
Ararat !”

A collegue from the Black Sea countries said: “Congratulations for your
response to this “breaking news”, it was widely spread by Bulgarian
media too including the national TV. If you think relevant you can send
me your newspaper article to be translated, or if you prefer you can
write it in English and send it to at least all Black Sea countries
National TVs.”

All these efforts can not sufficiently counter the falsification and
hype that you have created in the conscience of the ‘general public who
are unaware of the existence of these undersea rivers’, as your science
correspondent Richard puts it. In fact I am quite annoyed by his
behaviour, because after all these mails to him, he still falsely
recognizes our attempts to correct his way of understanding and
interprets it as ‘scientific rivalry’. Surely scientific work involves
the search of the many facets of truth, but it is never a rivalry, as
interpreted by Gray. I absolutely condemn such petty thinking,
especially if given by an outsider to science to justify this behaviour.

Richard also has no right to suggest ‘to write your views in less
aggressive manner to ensure it is considered for publication’. What he
does not seem to understand is that I have no intention to enter the
‘letters to the editor’ column as an unidentified commentator, but
rather object totally to this way of reporting. Only you, as the editor
can undo this falsification attempt, and perhaps even will not be able
to do so.

Perhaps we might laugh at it and pass, if you are not going to accept
this note of caution.
We can then just read a reader comment that followed the Daily Mail web
article copying the Telegraph:
“Yay for British scientists.
So good of you to “discover” these rivers. Who cares if American and
Russian submarines have been negotiating them for decades, you British
scientists just discovered them. Just now. Really.
You Europeans also discovered the Americas. Never mind the 20+ million
people who were already living there.
– John, Dallas, Texas, 2/8/2010 1:14″


“Perfect! We have found somewhere to dump the labour manifesto.
– me here, bournemouth, 02/8/2010 17:13”

But the better way is to take it with a grim smile, and we do, with this
note to you to make you aware of the consequences, and to take action so
that reporting would never happen in this irresponsible way.

Best regards,

Emin Ozsoy
Institute of Marine Sciences, Middle East Technical University