Through all of the different roles I fill at WDC and in the marine mammal community, I am a biologist at heart. I love learning how the environment works, I love that we are still finding new species of whales, and I love talking about some things that others might think of as “gross” such as whale poop.
That is the first thing I thought of when a famous billionaire tweeted that he would donate 100 million dollars(!!!) as a prize for technology that would best take carbon out of our atmosphere. There were a LOT of snarky responses telling him that trees already existed, but I thought, “So do whales!”
Technology is great, but nature is better. Your donation will protect whales and our environment.
Few people think about the ocean’s microscopic plants called phytoplankton, but they deserve just as much recognition as plants on land. They live at the surface of the ocean where they spend their days taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. There are so many of them that they take in nearly 1/3 of the carbon dioxide we release in the atmosphere and give us least 50% of the oxygen that we breathe.
We need phytoplankton but phytoplankton need whales. Here comes the slightly gross part..
Whales are the ocean’s gardeners who bring phytoplankton nutrients when they poop at the surface. This is politely referred to as the ‘whale pump’.
Whales can feed in deep water, but pooping under pressure is tough so bathroom breaks happen when whales surface to breathe. Whale poop is rich with important nutrients which phytoplankton need to survive and thrive. Phytoplankton not only remove carbon dioxide and give us oxygen, but they are also the base for the marine food web. Turns out that big things do come in small packages but also that those small packages rely on some big things!
An infographic is worth 1,000 words so check out how the whale pump works:
Take two deep breaths. Thank the trees for the first breath you took and thank phytoplankton and whales for the second breath. At WDC, we are hard at work on the “Green Whale” project which is dedicated to spreading the word the important role whales play in the health of our planet.
Thanks to you, we shared the Green Whale project with people around the world last year through our online programs and presentations. We are thankful for your support to reach even more people this year.
To the famous billionaire looking for a technological solution to a human caused problem - technology is great, but nature is better.
Save the whales, save the world,