Whales, Carbon Sequestration & Whales YouTube Lecture Handouts

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  • Carbon sequestration & whales – the unheard secret …
  • One whale is worth thousands of trees β€” and about two million dollars, according to a recent study by IMF
  • Whales combat carbon naturally; big whales such as filter-feeding baleen and sperm whales help sequester carbon. They hoard carbon in their bodies, stockpiling tonnes of it, like trees (if they could swim) .
  • When a whale dies, its carcass sinks to the bottom of the sea; the carbon stored in it circulates in the atmospheric cycle for hundreds of years. It becomes a literal carbon sink.
  • β€˜Whale pump’ . In the depths of the ocean, whales feed on tiny marine organisms such as krill or plankton and return to the surface to release huge faecal plumes.
  • These plumes are floating masses of faeces rich in iron, phosphorus, and nitrogen.
  • Important for planktons - captures about 40 per cent of all carbon dioxide produced worldwide and contributes half of oxygen concentration to the atmosphere.
  • It means that it would take four Amazon rainforests to capture the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide.
  • Whale excretes excess nutrition - Iron into cold waters and nitrogen and phosphorus into warm seas.
Carbon Sequestration & Whales
  • A mature tree absorbs up to 22 kilograms of carbon each year. A single whale, with an average lifespan of 60 years, stores about 33 tonnes of carbon dioxide. This means one whale can do the job of 1,500 trees.
  • More whales would mean more plankton. Which would mean more absorption of carbon.
  • If one takes the whale value and multiply it by the total great whale population, one would get a value of over a trillion dollars.
  • Before commercial whaling started about 500 years ago, four to five million whales would swim in the oceans across the world.
  • Humpback whales have recovered strongly in the western South Atlantic and their current population is close to around 25,000
  • There are more than one million whales in our oceans.
  • The appropriate way to move ahead would be to first double that number, which will take approximately 30 years.
  • A one per cent recovery of the population could increase plankton that could help capture millions of tonnes of additional carbon dioxide each year.

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