Over the past century, whale poop’s importance has been greatly underestimated. Researchers have collected data for nearly 10 years that shows that the ocean’s ecosystem and climate has been drastically altered by the decline of whale populations.
The study was detailed in . It explains the feeding habits of different species of whales, such as the humpback, and why these patterns are important. The researchers found that whales ate three times as much krill than they did in previous years.
It could change the balance of power in the ecosystem, even though estimates are far off. It means that there are fewer whales, which in turn means that there is less krill to eat and less whale poop. Why is any of this important?
The iron-rich krill is re-deposited into the ocean by whales when they poop, fertilizing the surface. The fertilizer is fed to the krill, and then it returns to the whales that eat the krill. All things work together to make the earth turn ’round, even feces. Researchers believe there is a solution, but it may take some time.
“Our results show that if we return whale populations to the pre-whaling levels at the beginning of 20th century, then we’ll restore an enormous amount of lost function in ocean ecosystems,” said Nicholas Pyenson co-author of study. Although it may take several decades for the benefits to be apparent, this is the most comprehensive view yet of the huge role that large whales play on our planet.
Whale poop isn’t the only reason whale poo continues to be fascinating
Fecal matter can be valuable beyond the ocean. An eight-year old boy from New Zealand discovered worth $65,000 in 2015. Ambergris is also used in perfumes and is highly sought after.
Christopher Kemp, a molecular biologist, says that to create a chunk ambergris it requires “one unlikelylihood piled upon another.” According to Christopher Kemp, only 1% of the 350,000 sperm Whales on Earth can make it.