Save the Whales! We Need Their Poo.


Photo via ahisgett via Flickr CC

If you've been looking for a new reason to argue for saving the whales, researchers at the Australian Antarctic Division have come up with it. We've been hearing reports about the worrying effects of ocean acidification, and the even more worrying concepts for how to combat it, including dumping iron into the oceans as fertilizer for marine plant life, which stimulates growth all the way up the food chain. Right now, acidification is intensifying thanks to carbon emissions. But rather than geoengineering solutions to the problem, we could just stop whaling since whales, it turns out, do just that fertilizing for us. PhysOrg writes that the experts have found that whale excrement is iron rich thanks to their diet of krill, and it acts as an effective plant-friendly fertilizer.

"When whales consume the iron-rich krill, they excrete most of the iron back into the water, therefore fertilising the ocean and starting the whole food cycle again," scientist Steve Nicol said.

WATCH VIDEO: The life cycle on the Earth is being broken by the increased levels of CO2 in the air that is being absorbed by the world's oceans. The CO2 then turns to acid in water, causing devastating effects.

The conclusion to draw from this, of course, is more whales = more excrement = more marine plant life = more carbon absorbed by the ocean and less acidification. Plus, a stronger food chain for marine ecosystems.

The scientist found that not only does whale excrement contain iron, but that it is highly concentrated, about 10 million times that of Antarctic seawater. So where there are whales, there is fertilizer for healthy sea life. The findings serve to highlight how incredibly interconnected and interdependent marine ecosystems are, and how each animal has an important role to serve.

WATCH VIDEO: It took just 100 years to acidify the Oceans. Can we do anything to fix this problem before it's too late?

Perhaps this can be one more argument lobbed at whalers on why strong caps are needed on hunts.

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More on Ocean Acidification
What You Need to Know About Ocean Acidification
Global Warming's Evil Twin: Ocean Acidification - A Present And Measurable Danger
Oceans Acidifying 10x Faster Than During Last Massive Marine Extinction

Tags: Carbon Emissions | Oceans | Whales