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Each whale can sequester 33 tons of CO2, we have to save them!

02:59 PM Dec 24, 2022 IST | nayanikaphukan
each whale can sequester 33 tons of co2  we have to save them

According to WWF, whales roam throughout all of the world’s oceans, communicating with complex and mysterious sounds. The blue whale can live up to 100 years, can reach lengths of more than 100 ft, and weigh up to 200 tons which is as much as 30 elephants combined.

Rising Carbon dioxide levels

The World Meteorological Organization Greenhouse Gas Bulletin stated that atmospheric carbon dioxide reached 149% of the pre-industrial level in 2021. WMO’s Global Atmospheric Watch network stations have observed that these levels continue to rise in 2022 over the whole globe. They also stated that between 1990 and 2021, the warming effects on our climate by long-lived greenhouse gases rose by nearly 50%, with carbon dioxide accounting for about 80% of this increase.

A mother sperm whale and her calf off the coast of Mauritius. The calf has remoras attached to its body | Courtesy: Gabriel Barathieu/ Wikimedia Commons
A mother sperm whale and her calf off the coast of Mauritius. The calf has remoras attached to its body | Courtesy: Gabriel Barathieu/ Wikimedia Commons

Carbon dioxide sequestration by Whales and Phytoplanktons

A paper published by Trends in Ecology and Evolution stated that because whales are among the longest-lived animals. They may constitute one of the largest stable living carbon pools in the pelagic ocean.

Pelagic ocean refers to the part of the open sea or ocean that is not near the coast or sea floor. Whales sink to the bottom of the ocean when they die and take carbon out of the atmosphere for centuries.

Read more: Protecting whales is climate positive

The excreta of the whales are rich in important nutrients that help krills and phytoplanktons flourish. One study found that these microscopic creatures contribute at least 50% of all oxygen to our atmosphere and capture about 37 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, an estimated 40% of all carbon dioxide produced. The 37 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide is equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide captured by four Amazon forests’ worth as calculated by the study.

It was also found that each whale can sequester 33 tons of carbon dioxide on average when it dies and sinks to the ocean floor.

Read more: Nature’s Solution to climate change

A female Humpback whale with her calf | Courtesy: National Marine Sanctuaries /Wikimedia Commons
A female Humpback whale with her calf | Courtesy: National Marine Sanctuaries /Wikimedia Commons
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Conclusion

While research has stated that whales can help in fighting climate change, due to commercial whaling its population has decreased by 81%. Therefore, conservation and extensive research on this will be the best way to figure out how much of impact whales can have on climate change. As a part of the UN biodiversity conference, countries have vowed to protect 30% of land and water which is considered important for biodiversity by 2030.

And, we can hope for the best and push for policies to save biodiversity.

Also Read

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