With deep irony, whales may be about to save us with their poo, a new scientific report from the University of Vermont, shows that the great whales may be the enablers of massive carbon sinks via their prodigious production of faeces!
The nutrients in whale poo feed other organisms, from phytoplankton upwards – and thereby absorb the carbon from the sea and the atmosphere.
The first success of the environmental movements of the 1960s was to save the whale. The great whales which nearly became extinct in the 20th century – and are now recovering in number due to the 1983 ban on whaling – may be the enablers of massive carbon sinks via their prodigious production of faeces.
As Greg Gatenby, the acclaimed Canadian writer on whales commented in response to the Vermont report, “about 300,000 blue whales were hunted in the 20th century. If you average each whale at 100 tons, that makes for the removal from the ocean of approximately 30m tons of biomass. And that’s just for one species”.
The climate change may have been accelerated by the terrible whale culls of the 20th century, which removed hundreds of thousands of these ultimate facilitators of CO2 absorption.