How Does Whale Poop Fight Climate Change?

blue whale poop, whale poop
Blue whale poop by Ian Wiese

Did you know that whales are climate change fighting machines? If saving them for their majesty and beauty wasn’t enough, whales actually help fight climate change. This is due to whale poop, of all things.

Blue Whale Poop

Take the largest animals to roam the Earth, present day or past, the blue whales. Blue whales reach lengths of 100 feet and 190 tons. When they poop, they release the by-products of the krill they eat.
Essentially whale poop is fertilizer for the plants of the ocean, the phytoplankton. The phytoplankton, wherever the blue whale migrates to, are stimulated to grow. They, like terrestrial plants, use carbon dioxide and sunlight to grow. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. The less of it in the air, the better it is for planet Earth and its warming climate.

Phytoplankton thanks

The phytoplankton take sunlight and carbon dioxide and turn it into food and oxygen. Take a breath, and sigh it out. Take another breath and exhale. One of those breaths is thanks to phytoplankton growing in the ocean! Thanks phytoplankton!

Whale migration

Whales are constantly swimming and migrating to new places in search of food. Along the way they poop out nutrients and voila, the phytoplankton begin to grow and nourish the bottom of the food chain there. The phytoplankton grow where they wouldn’t have otherwise without whale poop and the critters in those spots benefit.

Nutrients brought up from depths

Whales also dive in search of food-think of a sperm whale fighting a giant squid for a meal-and bring up nutrients from the ocean depths and deposit them at the surface where phytoplankton live and grow.

Whale falls

Although it’s sad to think about, whales die and sink to the sea floor. One whale body can bring 190,000 tons of carbon (equivalent to the emissions of 80,000 cars in a year) from the surface to the sea floor. This is a part of carbon sequestration, which just means capturing carbon somehow and taking it out of the air. In this case it means taking carbon from the surface (the whale) and depositing it on the sea floor. There many animals benefit from eating and scavenging the whale, and the carbon get deposited and stays there.

Whale poop and Fisheries

Last, but not least, whales and their poop can help enhance fisheries. There will be higher rates of food productivity in places where whales feed and give birth. The whale poop stimulates the phytoplankton at the bottom of the food chain, and fish at the higher levels of the food chain benefit and grow and reproduce.

So while being magnificent in their own right, whales and their poop are climate change fighters!

Did you know sea otters also help fight climate change?

Whale poop and climate change: here’s what you need to know by National Marine Sanctuary Foundation

Blue Whale Caught on Camera Having a Poo

10 Cool Facts about Narwhals

Rare narwhal with two tusks!
Rare narwhal with two tusks!

1. Narwhals are often called the “Unicorns of the Sea” because of their tusk, which is actually a long tooth.

2. Most male narwhals have a tusk, while only some females have one. Some narwhals even have two tusks! Their tusks have over 10 million nerves in them and can be up to 9 feet long.

3. The narwhal’s scientific name Monodon monoceras means “one tooth, one horn.” Males have been seen crossing tusks and it is assumed that they are fighting for females or trying to impress them.

4. The narwhals’ tusks can be used for hunting. They use their tusks to slap and stun fish before eating them. Check out video footage of narwhals hunting with their tusks

5. Narwhals live in pods of 10-100 individuals in the Arctic, but have been seen in pods up to 1000.

6. Narwhals mainly hang out at the surface, but can dive down to 5,000 feet deep (1,524 m)

7. Narwhals feed on fish, shrimp and squid. They are suction feeders that swallow their food whole.

8. Predators include killer whales, polar bears, walruses and native Inuit hunters.

9. Narwhals can grow up to 17 feet long (5.2m) and weigh 4,200 pounds (1,905 kg).

10. Defenders.org says, “Narwhals might be more sensitive to impacts of climate change than the polar bear.” Threats to Narwhals include oil and gas development of the Arctic, climate change, and shipping vessels that cause collisions and noise pollution.

Humpback Whales Exhibit Altruistic Behavior Towards Other Animal Species

Hunter the Humpback Whale photo by: NOAA Dr. Louis M. Herman
Hunter the Humpback Whale photo by: NOAA Dr. Louis M. Herman

My name is Hunter, and I’m a Humpback Whale. One day I was feeding on krill in Antarctica. I noticed a pod of Orcas on the hunt. They had a poor Weddell Seal trapped on an ice floe. All they had to do was tip the ice floe over and they would have dinner. I felt sorry for the seal, and decided follow my heart and intervene. I am almost 50 feet long and weigh almost 80,000 pounds so I have a distinct size advantage over the orcas. Orcas rarely get over 30 feet long.

The orcas splashed around the ice floe and got it moving back and forth like a teeter-totter. The moment the seal was about to hit the water, I came up underneath him, my belly up. I lifted the grateful seal out of the water. He was a slippery fellow, and I used my long pectoral fins to push the seal back onto my belly every time he slid down. Sure enough, the orcas lost interest and I released the seal into the ocean. He swam off to the safety of another ice floe.

Humans have witnessed and documented over a 100 times around the globe us humpback whales exhibiting this altruistic behavior. We have saved gray whale calves, California sea lions, harbor seals, and Mola mola (sunfish).

It’s just a few moments out of our lives to save an otherwise hapless animal from certain death. As an adult, my safety isn’t at stake. So I help when I can!

This blog post was inspired by this article “Humpback Whales Around the Globe Are Mysteriously Rescuing Animals From Orcas”

What Type of Fish is Dory in Finding Dory?


What type of fish is Dory from the Finding Nemo and Finding Dory movies?

What type of fish is Dory and her parents?

Dory and her parents are Yellow Tail Blue Tangs or Blue Hippo Tangs or Pacific Blue Tangs or Palette Surgeonfish. Her Mom’s name is Jenny and her Dad’s name is Charlie.

What type of fish are Marlin and Nemo?

They are Ocellaris or False Percula Clownfish or Clown Anemonefish.

What kind of sea turtles are Crush and Squirt?

They are Green Sea Turtles, one of 7 species of sea turtles. Green sea turtles were named green for the fat on their body, not the color of their shells or skin.

What kind of ray is Mr. Ray?

He is a Spotted Eagle Ray. Fortunately he’s not the type of Stingray shown migrating in the movie or else he’d be leaving his students behind! There is a specific kind of ray known as the Golden Cownose Ray that may migrate in groups of up to 10,000!

What kind of whale is Bailey?

Bailey is a Beluga Whale. Belugas are often called the “canaries of the sea” because of their vocalizations. Their (squishy) fat-filled melons (heads) are supposed to help with echolocation, the sonar that many whales use in the ocean.

what type of fish is Dory, Finding Dory, Destiny, Dory, Whale Shark
Dory and Destiny the Whale Shark from Finding Dory Photo: © Disney Pixar 2016

What kind of fish is Destiny?

Destiny is a Whale Shark. It’s cute that she and Dory knew each other and can speak whale, but Destiny is a Shark, not a Whale! She’s the largest shark in the ocean, but only eats tiny plankton with her cavernous mouth. Whale Sharks do have poor eyesight because their eyes are so tiny compared to their bodies, but they are not clumsy. Anyone who has snorkeled with Whale Sharks know they can turn on a dime to avoid swimming into you!

What kind of octopus is Hank?

Hank is a generic octopus. Octopuses are masters of camouflage and many can turn orange like Hank. He is actually missing an arm, so he’s a “septopus.” In real life, the octopus would grow any missing arms back. There are so many neurons in a severed octopus arm that it can move and hunt on its own!

What kind of Sea Lions are Rudder and Fluke?

Sea Lions are probably California Sea Lions. I’m guessing they are California Sea Lions because part of the movie takes place off of California. If they were both male, then they could be found off of Pier 39 in San Francisco where bachelor males hang out and entertain tourists.

What kind of Sea Otters are the baby Sea Otters?

The baby Sea Otters are oh so cute! They are probably Southern Sea Otters, mainly found off the California coast. Sea otters don’t stand up on their hind legs like river otters do, and they couldn’t climb up the poles to the freeway! In some press pictures, it looks like there are baby sea otters in a group. There would never be a group of babies together because a wild Sea Otter pup stays with Mom 24/7 and they rarely socialize with other mother/pup pairs. Even surrogate Sea Otter Moms at the Monterey Bay Aquarium only take care of one pup at a time!

What type of bird is Becky?

I speculate Becky is a Pacific Loon. Loons may mate for life! They eat mainly fish, crustaceans, and insects.

I loved seeing Finding Dory and here is my review!

For more images of the movie visit Finding Dory Images at collider.com
or
side-by-side (Finding Dory image vs. real animal images) at Mother Nature Network’s Meet the Real Animals Behind Finding Dory

Click here for The Real Fish of Finding Nemo
Click here for The Real Fish (and Sharks!) of Finding Nemo Part 2

10 Cool Facts About Blue Whales

Blue Whale by NOAA
Blue Whale photo by: NOAA

1. Blue Whales are the largest animal to have ever lived on Earth. They are larger than any dinosaurs were.

2. Blue Whales can grow to 100 feet long (30.5 meters) long. That’s as long as 20 school children laying down end-to-end!

3. Blue Whales weigh as much as 26 adult bull elephants (about 200 tons).

4. Blue Whales eat up to 40 million krill (a small kind of shrimp) a day, or about 8,000 pounds (3,629 kg). That’s the equivalent of eating 32,000 quarter pound hamburgers a day!

5. A Blue Whale’s heart is the size and weight of a compact car. It pumps a whopping 60 gallons per beat.

6. A Blue Whale can live over 80 years.

7. The deep rumbling sounds from a Blue Whale can travel for thousands of miles under the sea.

8. Before whaling, there were 250,000 Blue Whales on Earth. Now there are less than 10,000.

9. A Blue Whale calf (baby) gains 250 pounds (113 kg) a day just from its mother’s milk!

10. Central California, USA has the largest concentration of Blue Whales in the world. There are about 2,000 there seasonally.