Did you know that we can thank whales for at least half of the oxygen we breathe?
It’s true. This is how it works:
- Very small plant-like algae called phytoplankton create a vast ‘forest’ in the ocean to provide food to a variety of marine creatures. They also sequester tons of carbon during their life cycle.
- Similar to plants and flora on land, to survive and thrive, these organisms must receive water, carbon dioxide, exposure to sun and nutrients to receive their food, through a process called photosynthesis.
- Whales provide the vital nutrients that sustain phytoplankton at the surface of the water because the algae is unable to draw it from the ocean floor.
- Nitrogen, iron and phosphorus found in whale waste are a lifeline for phytoplankton and essentially the rest of the marine food chain.
- This ecosystem works so well because whales migrate and re-distribute the nutrients across the world as they travel.
Why is the health of the phytoplankton population so vital to humans?
Because they absorb almost 1/3 of all human-generated carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which is comparable to the amount that all of the forests on earth absorb. Without them, there would be a deficiency of clean air to breathe.
When the whale population dwindles, phytoplankton and the marine ecosystem are at risk, which is why it’s necessary to protect the whales in their natural habitats before it’s too late.
How can we help?
For 65,000 years, The Mirning People have protected the great whale sanctuary in Australia’s beautiful sea country that spans from the area near Point Culver in Western Australia, all the way to near Streaky Bay.
Humpback Whale Photo: Pixabay
Australia Sea Country Graphic: Courtesy of The Mirning People