As much as we might hate smelling it, looking at it, or talking about it, poop can do some amazing things.
The latest discovery? Sperm whale feces might actually be a key element in the Southern Ocean’s ability to regulate atmospheric CO2 levels.
According to the results of a recent scientific study, it has been determined that consuming prey at depth and defecating iron-rich liquid faeces (sic) into the photic zone, sperm whales are able to stimulate new primary production and carbon export to the deep ocean.
Researches involved with the study learned that Southern Ocean sperm whales defecate 50 tonnes of iron into the photic zone each year, facilitating the export of 400,000 tons of carbon per year to the deep ocean.
The scientists conducting the study concluded that the ability of the Southern Ocean to act as a carbon sink may be diminished by large-scale removal of sperm whales during industrial whaling.
This finding couldn’t have come at a more crucial time for the whales.
The WWF reports that “whaling in the Southern Ocean has been banned for decades as a result of rampant commercial hunting in the last Century which brought several great whale species to the brink of extinction. In 1994, the IWC established the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. However since the global ban on commercial whaling came into effect, Japan has killed 9,409 whales in the Southern Ocean in the name of ‘scientific research’.”
“If there is one place in the world where whales should be protected, it is the Southern Ocean,” said Wendy Elliot, Species Manager at WWF International. “It should be a fundamental and unquestionable responsibility of IWC governments to eliminate immediately all whaling in these waters,” she said.
Time is running out — please help protect these gentle giants from a return to such horrific cruelty. Take action and tell President Obama to reject plans to resume commercial whaling.
Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons - strangeones