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Project AWARE: The importance of Whale Poo to the Carbon Cycle.

Project AWARE: inform yourself on how these gentle giants are our biggest ally in our battle against climate change

Whale Poop is vital to maintaining a healthy ocean planet. Project AWARE is here to help raise awareness.

Project AWARE is here to protect our ocean planet, Scuba Monkey is the only 100% AWARE diving center in Cyprus. We are dedicated to conservation and raising global awareness.

Climate change. Sea levels rising. More extreme weather events. Climate refugees.

A bleak future indeed.
Can we stop it? Is it too late? What has whale poo got to do with it anyhow?

 

Whales are big. I mean, really big. They have been hunted to the point of extinction and if it wasn’t for the “Save the whales” drive of the 1970’s we wouldn’t have any in the ocean at all. The worldwide ban on whaling came into effect in 1985 and since then populations are making a slow, but steady recovery. Conservation has worked, but continued vigilance is needed.

 

Whales are beautiful, gentle creatures…..but their role in climate change is not well known. Perhaps if people understood the importance of whale poo in the cycle of things they would be even more inclined to protect them – albeit on a selfish level.

 

The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a major player in climate change. Global summits have set limits, treaties have been signed and nations are involved in actively reducing their carbon footprint. The hope is to avoid the dreaded 2 degree increase in global temperatures, which threatens to start the next ice age.

 

Project AWARE: Carbon sinks are the key. We need to lock more of the carbon away again, where it can’t cause trouble. Whales play a huge part. These gentle giants are regarded as a “climate Geo-engineering tool” because they are hugely responsible for providing the oceans phytoplankton with the conditions they need to survive.

 

They are ocean gardeners and their continued protection is urgent if we want to address the climate problem.

Project AWARE: Phytoplankton is clustered into patches

Phytoplankton need three things: sunlight, carbon dioxide and nutrients in order for photosynthesis to take place. These are not naturally abundant in the world’s oceans, which is why phytoplankton is clustered into patches. Plankton have a life span of up to several weeks, and if they are not eaten before this they die, sink to the sea bed – burying huge amounts of organic carbon and locking it away.

 

They are ocean gardeners and their continued protection is urgent if we want to address the climate problem.

Project AWARE: Without Baleen whales the global carbon pump is handicapped.

One nutrient plankton require is iron. Whale feces once provided huge quantities of iron to what is now an anemic southern ocean. This boosted the growth of carbon sequestering phytoplankton, who live on the surface and rely on the iron that comes from whales defecating near the surface. Whales have huge amounts of iron in their blood streams, but depth leads to a huge reduction in their metabolism. This is why they come to the surface not only to breathe but to poo too. You see an instant bloom of plankton growth as soon as soluble iron is introduced to the surrounding environment.  It is believed that before commercial whaling, baleen whale feces may have accounted for some 12 per cent of the iron on the surface of the Southern Ocean. Analysis of baleen whale feces contain an average of 10 million times more iron that Antarctic seawater. Without them the global carbon pump is handicapped.

 

whalepump

Project AWARE: Whales are ocean gardeners and their continued protection is urgent if we want to address the climate problem.

Since whaling has pushed these beautiful creatures to the brink of extinction the carbon sinks of the oceans have been reduced dramatically. They are ocean gardeners and their continued protection is urgent if we want to address the climate problem. We are all trying to offset our carbon emissions, perhaps you are a conscious citizen who pays the optional offset when you travel. You recycle. You plant trees. You read. You care. You can do all of these things and not even come close to the good that whale poo can do……Each whale can remove 40,000 tons of carbon emissions from their surroundings in a single week. The whaling ban has allowed us to retain our whale populations, but grey whales, sperm whales, right whales, humpback whales and blue whales are all still on the endangered list. It is hard to swallow that the removal of whales has upset the balance of the global carbon cycle to the point that we have lost a very important partner in our fight against climate change.

 

Do you want to know more? Do you want to do more? Scuba Monkey is sadly a minority of dive centers who are 100% AWARE – meaning that every student contributes towards ocean conservation by just taking a course with us. We donate on your behalf, but we encourage you to give even more. Every euro counts. Every educated mind does even more. We are fighting a losing battle until we see a paradigm shift.

 

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