If we Save the Whales we Can Bring Back the Ocean

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Though many people may have told you to save the whales, but has any one told you to save the whales because they are hard workers? Whales are the biggest living animals on the planet, and there’s a reason for it. It isn’t just because they eat tonnes of food, nor that they’ve been around so long. Whales are big because they carry a huge responsibility. The health of the oceans rests heavily upon their backs.

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What responsibility could whales possibly have?

Being a whale probably sounds pretty easy, you are a huge animal with little to no predators who swims around the world and eats all day. While traveling and eating lots of food is a dream most of us strive to achieve, we also know that we have to work for it. So how do they pull it off? Whales are giant fertilizing machines.

If whales are removed from the ocean, the waters would become more stagnant and eventually little to nothing would be able to grow. Sea plant life is heavily dependent on nutrients that, in surface waters, tend to be scarce. But don’t worry, whales are able to propagate and share these with the rest of the seas.

How do whales fertilize the ocean?

Just like on land, when plants and animals die they go back into the earth, are decomposed, and become nutrients to be consumed by plants. Except for the ocean is really deep… Where it’s deep it is dark, and as we all learnt in 2nd grade science class, plants need light to do photosynthesis. Put simply, the bottom of the ocean is a treasure trove of untouched nutrients that aren’t being harvested.

This is where the whales come in. These peaceful giants swoop down in to the deep ocean and feed on deep dwelling organisms. On their way back up their large powerful bodies stir up the waters bringing nutrients up to the shallows. Not only do they stir up the water they share the goodies that they’ve eaten. How might you ask? The answer is by poopin’ and peein’ all over the place.

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Whale tail spotted in Catalina islands in Costa Rica on a beautiful March

Image Credit goes to my friend/student Nathan Mobach author of Sir Handsome Hank a DiveMaster Blog. 

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You’ve got to be Shitting me….

Nope, a whales job is to eat lots of food and create giant messy clouds of feces. Ocean plants find it most difficult to acquire two things: iron and nitrogen. Animals such as krill (a favorite among many whales) are high in Iron. Especially when you consume up to 2 tonnes of them a day. Whales, though very large, do not require all of the iron they consume and therefore share the excess by passing it through the other  end.

Despite passing the whales rear the plants still enjoy the iron. They are  able to absorb this iron which in turn allows them to grow providing more food for the krill. If you think back and remember how the predator prey cycle works, you will know that more krill means that the  whale population can increase. What’s odd, is that this nutrient cycle is a positive feedback loop which benefits all parties involved. This means that krill populations will not decrease with more whales, rather it will increase.

And what about that nitrogen?

Whale pee. These big fellas whizz out lots and lots of nitrogen another plant favourite. The reason for that is again due to deep dwelling animals. At the bottom of the ocean there’s lots of nitrogen which is absorbed by the local inhabitants. Those locals get gobbled up by whales and taken to the surface to be excreted and used as plant fertilizer.

That’s so cool! Good thing there is a lot of krill!

Wrong. The oceans krill are dying. First there was a huge decrease in whale populations which also decreased krill populations. Then to follow that up there had been a rapid change in ocean climate due to the melting of the polar ice caps. The increase of fresh water has made the ocean less salty while changing water temperatures everywhere. In warmer climates the water is becoming colder and the coldest parts of the ocean are warming up. Then you add a drop in the purity of the water due to oils, detergents, and chemicals, add a few million tonnes of plastic pollution every year ad you’ve got a big problem.

Some super cool scientists decided to research the krill and found out that the more polluted the water became, and the more the temperatures changed, the harder it became for the krill to adapt. It was also found that surviving krill had to eat more, and their bodies had to work harder to survive. This cause the krill to become less nutritious, meaning less nitrogen and iron for the whales and the plants the krill feed upon. This could lead to a very vicious cycle of

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Whale surfacing for a breath of fresh air, and exercising that blowhole. This while came very close to our boat along with another adult whale and calf. Talk about a lucky day!

Photo taken by Ranelle Ivens author of SeaReina’s Call

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Yes, save the whales indeed. Luckily, we have made some big improvements to protect these magnificent giants. In fact, there are even some populations on the rise such as the blue whale, bowhead whale, and humpbacks. So, at the very least, we are doing something right! However, in many countries including the USA and Canada Whaling is still legal, and whales still face many threats. These include climate change, plastic waste, and water pollution.

How to help

  • Avoid products containing whale (lamp oil, some soaps and cosmentics, tennis rackets, cooking oils etc.)
  • Stop using single use plastics
  • Recycle more
  • Avoid harsh chemicals and cleaners in your home
  • Tell your local government/politicians to make whaling illegal you can also ask them to take further steps to help save the whales such as banning whale products
  • Educate yourself and others on whales
  • Donate to organizations that will help save the whales and the ocean!

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Ranelle’s addiction to SCUBA started in 2004. From a young age she has been fascinated by the ocean and the creatures living within it. Her Ultimate dive dream is to swim with Orcas and to dive the world. Ranelle is a certified PADI Specialty Instructor and spent 3 years in university studying Science and Biology.

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35 thoughts on “If we Save the Whales we Can Bring Back the Ocean

  1. I had no idea all of this information about whales and how much they help the ocean. I will definitely have to do my part in helping ou tmore. Thanks for sharing!

  2. This is such a great post. Very informative indeed and really helpful to learn about whales. I am definitely going to try and do more!

  3. Wow this is so informative! Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I’m already doing some of the things on this list, but I want to do more! Whales are so cool, and I love how they contribute to our oceans.

    1. Thats so awesome! Do mind if i ask which company you sponsor through? Im always looking for companies to suggest supporting 🙂

  4. This is such a great post and I am glad that your are able to share with us your understanding about whales. I salute all the people that raising this kind of protection to the sea animals like whales.

    1. If you ever get the chance to go whale watching i highly recommend it! Seeing them in person is breathtaking

    1. Thanks! And so glad you agree, its so important to everyone on the planet whether they realize it or not

  5. Wow. Environmental protections is very important to me and you listed some pretty cool facts that I didn’t know. Thank you for sharing the tips to help!

    1. No problem 🙂 i love being able to share my knowledge and help people make better choices!

  6. The Canadian government is trying to stop the deaths of whales in Eastern Canada. They are closing off fishing areas when right whales are spotted in the waters. This practise should cut down on the whales getting tangled in fishing nets and dying.

    1. Yes this is an awesome movement that my (our?) country has taken! Im so proud of this!! Now if only we can get Iceland to see the light!

  7. I do not know if my country has whales, and I have never seen them before. But it would be great if one day I go to sea and come across a whale. Through your photos, I can see the sea is beautiful with whales. However, whale conservation is very urgent. Thanks a lot ^^

    1. If your country is along side the ocean then you most likely have whales! Whether they frequent the area or not is a whole other question.

  8. Glad to learn about whales here. These are beautiful creature in the ocean and really our responsiblity to take care of the ocean and stop them from extinct. I have seen ocra performance in San Diego Sea world and the killer whales are such smart creature. I hope whales live happily forever.

    1. 🙂 orcas are my favourite they are incredibly intelligent! But did you know they are actually dolphins?

  9. I have always wondered what the deal is with the motto “Save the whales.” Now I know. Very interesting information. at “pee” and “poo.” You were so lucky to get that picture with the whale so close to your boat.

  10. It’s great to see organizations like Starbucks taking a leadership role in reducing the use of plastics. They’ll set an example that others will follow!

    1. Yes for sure! when big companies take the initiative it sets a good example for the rest! hopefully more great changes will come our way soon

  11. Interesting to think about. This is going to sound terrible but I don’t think about the ocean too much because I am totally terrified of water and the animals that live in it! Sure, I love watching them on discovery channel and find them majestic but when it comes to the real deal, I stay away!

    1. Many people have the same fear of the water as you, its not uncommon. However it is still Very important for us to care for and protect the ocean. More oxygen comes from the ocean than from all the trees on the planet.

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