Australian scientists have discovered that whale poo is not only helping ocean plant life to flourish, but also increasing the ocean's ability to absorb CO2.
Because whales' diets are made up largely of iron-rich krill (small crustaceans), their droppings are a great fertilizer for marine plants, helping them to grow like weeds (or algae). These plants then do their part by absorbing CO2 as they grow, a process that scientists have tried to amp up (unsuccessfully) in Antarctic waters with iron fertilization.
Researchers say one-third of the world's oceans are low in iron. On the other hand, whale excrement contains a very high concentration of the mineral -- about 10 million times the concentration in Antarctic seawater. But how will scientists use this information? That's not clear yet, but it's a great reminder of how intricately well-tuned nature can be.
written by Sandstone, April 24, 2010
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