The world’s largest animals are extremely skilled at absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Whales, especially bar whales or sperm whales, are among the largest creatures in the world. Their bodies are like enormous carbon stores, so their presence in the oceans greatly affects the ecosystem.
These whales determine not only the depths of the ocean but also the temperature of the planet.
According to a scientific paper published in 2010, “People directly affect the level of carbon in the terrestrial ecosystem by cutting down forests, converting trees to lumber or destroying grassland. In the open oceans, the carbon cycle is completely independent of human influence.
However, the impact of whaling on ecosystems has been ignored here. Humans have hunted whales for centuries, consuming them from their fat to their bones and meat.
Why is Japan still whaling?
Whale extinction threat ‘real and imminent’. It is thought that the first commercial whaling in history was made in 1000 BC. Tens of millions of whales have been hunted since then, and experts say the whale population may have declined by 66 to 90 percent.
When whales die, they sink to the ocean floor, and the enormous amounts of carbon stored in their bodies mix from the surface waters into the deep seas, where they persist for centuries. Research conducted in 2010 reveals that prior to industrial whaling, between 190,000 and 1.9 million tons of carbon per year was deposited on the ocean floor by whales.
This is a rate that can be achieved by banning 40,000 to 410,000 cars from traffic each year. However, this is not possible due to whaling, and when whales are killed, the carbon released is released into the atmosphere.
Marine scientist Andrew Pershing from the University of Maine, one of the names who carried out the research, says that as a result of whaling during the 20th century, 70 million tons of carbon dioxide was released into the atmosphere. “That’s a huge rate, but 15 million cars emit that much carbon a year. There are 236 million cars in the US alone,” he says.
But whales aren’t just beneficial to the ecosystem when they die. Their faeces also play an important role in climate change. Whales feed in the depths of the ocean and return to the surface to remove their excrement. Whale excrement, which is extremely rich in iron, provides the perfect environment for the development of photoplankton.
Photoplankton may be microscopic in size, but taken as a whole they have a tremendous impact on the planet’s atmosphere. It is thought that they can absorb 40 percent of the carbon dioxide produced on Earth. That’s more than four times what the Amazon forests absorb.