Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Whale poop is vital to ocean's carbon cycle

Our friends at Henley Beach MDC alerted us to an article in NEWSCIENTIST; by Wendy Zukerman that gives a new ecosystem slant on the importance of whale conservation.

“Saving endangered baleen whales could boost the carbon storage capacity of the Southern Ocean, suggests a new study of whale faeces. Whale faeces once provided huge quantities of iron to a now anaemic Southern Ocean, boosting the growth of carbon-sequestering phytoplankton.”
“The amount of iron in whale faeces means that protecting Antarctic whales could swell populations of phytoplankton, which absorb carbon dioxide." 

(See the Scientist image showing krill circling the whale pooh)

"Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) feed on the phytoplankton, concentrating the iron in their tissue. And in turn, baleen whales eat the krill.”

To read the article in full click here

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