Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Whale Poo and You: Sperm Whale Feces Remove 200,000 Metric Tonnes of CO2 Annually

Thus sayeth Britain's Royal Society.
[actually their journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B -ed]
From The Sun

SPERM whales have emerged as an unexpected ally in the fight against climate change because they offset huge amounts of carbon — with their POO. 
The giant whales remove the equivalent of the carbon emissions from 40,000 cars each year thanks to their faeces, a new study has found. The cetaceans have been previously fingered as climate culprits because they breathe out carbon dioxide (CO2), the most common greenhouse gas.
But now it has been revealed that the estimated 12,000 sperm whales in the Southern Ocean each defecate around 55 tons of iron into the sea every year after digesting the fish and squid they hunt.
The iron is the favourite food of phytoplankton — marine plants that live near the ocean surface — which suck up CO2 from the atmosphere.
As a result of this faecal fertilisation the whales remove 400,000 tons of carbon each year, twice as much CO2 that they contribute through respiration...
Because the source was the Sun, I had to check. Here's the abstract:
I'll never doubt again.
Also at The Sun: