The Mediterranean endemic pen shell Pinna nobilis is suffering a widespread and unprecedented mass mortality event (MME) that started in 2016 in Spain and has rapidly spread eastwards. The species has been recently been listed as critically endangered in the IUCN Red List. Information about the extent of the MME on the eastern and southern Mediterranean coasts is scarce and urgently needed to evaluate the status of the species at a full Mediterranean scale. 

This paper reports the recent arrival of this catastrophic mass mortality to the Dardanelles, the strait connecting the Mediterranean and Marmara Seas. In this area populations of P. nobilis living in high densities were common before the MME.

The results of the study show mortality rates up to 99% in the surveyed sites, similar to what has been found in other Mediterranean sites impacted by the mortality.

The authors conclude that this record confirms the expansion of this devastating MME in the Aegean Sea and into the Dardanelles. They stress the need of urgent international efforts to evaluate the progress of the mortality in understudied regions, where many P. nobilis populations may disappear before even being known.

Özalp & Kersting (2020) A pan-Mediterranean extinction? Pinna nobilis mass mortality has reached the Turkish straits system. Marine Biodiversity 50:81.