© Humpback whale underwater in Caribbean
© Encounter between a free diver and a sperm whale.
© Alaska. Humpback whale breaching jumping.
5 Incredible Ways Whales are Saving the Oceans
October 11, 2019
Love whales? These incredible animals have fascinated humans for a very long time and rightly so.
Swimming or diving with whales is a life-changing experience. Whales are vital for the health of the oceans and dive destinations we love.
Find out more about top 5 ways whales are saving the oceans.
Whales fertilise the oceans, allowing other marine life to thrive
Whales travel enormous distances between the tropics and poles, following migratory routes as they feed and breed in different areas.
These ocean giants fertilise the ocean with their poop as they travel, providing nutrients at remote destinations that would otherwise be nutrient poor.
In the Southern Ocean, the 12,000 or so sperm whales found there provide iron and other nutrients that allow tiny marine organisms (phytoplankton) to bloom.
Much like plants on land, phytoplankton is the basis of food webs and is vital for other more complex life to grow in our oceans.
Without the faecal input of whales, it is possible some areas of phytoplankton would no longer bloom and marine ecosystems reliant upon the whales’ input would collapse.
Their faecal cycle could help solve climate change
As whales defecate and release nutrients into the ocean, phytoplankton blooms.
This cycle not only supports the growth of other life, it permanently removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
The Southern Ocean sperm whales alone are thought to remove the equivalent carbon emissions from 40,000 cars each year thanks to their faeces. And that’s just one population….
Whales ensure healthy fisheries
Once thought to be the bane of fishermen and taking their catch, whales are now known to increase the productivity of fisheries with their faecal cycle.
By fertilising the ocean and supporting the growth of complex life, whales ensure there are plenty of fish in the ocean.
This is vital for the millions of people who depend on fishing to meet their protein needs, as well as important for sustainable commercial fisheries.
Whales support remote communities reliant upon marine tourism
The input of nutrients from the whales also ensures healthy and resilient ocean areas where marine tourism and local communities can thrive.
The Pacific Islands are well known for marine tourism activities such as Tonga whale swimming
and Fiji scuba diving
These are important sources of income for remote communities, supported by thriving marine life and the presence of whales.
When whales die, they take carbon with them
When whales die, their huge bodies sink to the bottom of the ocean and perform another surprising climate management service.
Their carcasses store a vast amount of carbon, which provides food and habitat for deep sea species. Dozens, if not hundreds, of species rely upon these whales.
This deep ocean carbon storage removes carbon from the atmosphere produced by humans and also helps prevent the impacts of climate change.
Added to this, the great whales bring nutrients up from the ocean floor during their lifetime when they dive and surface, which helps even more phytoplankton to grow and absorb carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.
You can find out more in our infographic about the great whales and how you can help protect them.
Click here to show the infographics
This article was written by divers and writers at LiveAbroad.com