How Whales Change Climate

How Whales Change Climate

One of the most exciting scientific
findings of the past half century has been the discovery of widespread trophic
cascades. A trophic cascade is an ecological process which starts at the top of the food chain and tumbles all the way down to the bottom. We all know that whales eat fish and
krill and some people – certain politicians in japan for instance – have argued that killing whales is good for human beings as it boosts the food
available for us to eat – and so you would think But as the great whales declined
so did the numbers of fish and krill. It seems counterintuitive – surely their
numbers would rise as their major predators disappeared – but it now turns
out that whales not only eat these animals they also keep them alive. In fact, they help to sustain the entire
living system of the ocean. Whales feed a depth in waters that are often pitch dark and then they return to the surface to the photic zone where there’s
enough light for photosynthesis to happen. There they release what
biologists call fecal plumes – vast outpourings of poo – poonamis. These plumes are rich in iron and nitrogen – nutrients which are often very scarce in the surface waters and these nutrients fertilize plant plankton that lives in the only place where plants can survive – the photic zone. Fertilizing the surface waters isn’t the only thing the whales do. By plunging up and down through the water column, they also keep kicking the plankton back
up into the photic zone giving it more time to reproduce before it sinks into the abyss. Even today, the whale populations have
been greatly reduced, the vertical mixing of water caused by movements of animals up and down through the column of the oceans is astonishingly roughly the same
as the amount of mixing caused by all the world’s wind and waves and tides. More plant plankton means more animal plankton on which a larger creatures then feed. In other words, more whales means more
fish and krill. But the story doesn’t end here because plant plankton not only feeds the animals of the sea, it also absorbs carbon dioxide from the
atmosphere. When eventually it sinks to the ocean floor, it takes this carbon out of circulation
down to a place where it remains for thousands of years The more whales there are, the more plankton there is. The more plankton there is the more carbon is drawn out of the air. When whales were at their historic populations, before great numbers of them were killed, it seems that they might have been
responsible for removing tens of millions of tons of carbon from the atmosphere every year. Whales change the climate. The return of the great whales if
they’re allowed to recover could be seen as a benign form of geoengineering. It could undo some of the damage we’ve done both to the living systems of the sea and to the atmosphere.


  1. Absolutely enlightening. Having watched this video and the one on wolves in Yellowstone National Park, Sustainable Human, thank you.

  2. German CC subtitles provided by Yabla.
    Also available on

  3. Educate these fishermen, whales have always been the keepers of the ocean and the planet as a whole. So important to keep them ALIVE!!! Let's make the effort, please.

  4. People are evil to kill whales. I feel bad for the whales that humans can just kill what they want and not think about what they are doing that could kill us.

  5. I don't think that people intentionally hate the environment it's the government's that exploit the environment for money that continues the destruction of earth's environment

  6. I've shown this and the wolves change rivers video to my 2nd grade class. They found it engrossing and were amazed by it. They wanted more. It's too bad that the whole of my curriculum could not be this high of a level and enjoyable as well. You have set a very high bar and hopefully I can rise to meet it.

  7. Don't kill whales Japan. Boy, what a mess up world. Sometimes I think if we wipe each other out. The world will have a chance to regain itself.

  8. that moment when you just get pissed off because you realize how fucking retarded some humans are.

  9. whale is one of the most wonder animals in the world they are creative creatures so what about their creator ?

  10. Short but nonetheless excellent and important education! It's added to three of my nature and environment playlists plus to Favourites.

  11. This just proves what I have always known: that human civilization is an INSANE ABOMINATION. civilization is an UNNATURAL ABOMINATION
    and so are all of you insect freaks.

  12. I feel this could have been clearer about dfferent whale feeding behaviour. Baleen whales are mainly eating krill at the surface so not adding to krill, apart from gray whales which scoop up mud from the sea floor. Rorqual and toothed whales are eating bigger stuff, including diving for it, and bringing that up the water column to fertilise algae and so krill. That is the important part for the pelagic or open ocean zone. The video might also gave mentioned the importance of 'whale falls' in delvering carbon to the deep ocean, which is thought to have had an unexpectedly large impact historically

  13. So much of our co-existence is not known yet so critical to our very livelihood for a future world for generations to come. Thank you for helping to make us all more aware.

  14. I'm skeptical. Baleen whales are surface feeders. Doesn't make sense that they bring plankton from the depths…plankton lives near the surface.

  15. The greatest folly of man is that we met everything we didn't understand with a spear rather than with an open mind.

  16. Wow! Thank you for sharing this. I give presentations to high-schools about the melting Arctic ice and I talk about the whale pump effect in my presentation. Please sign the MAPS (MARINE ARCTIC PEACE SANCTUARY) petition to keep the article circle safe from exploitation. It's quick and easy to do and effective! What happens in the Arctic affects us all.

  17. In 1819 Missionary Whalers came to Hawaii and slaughtered these magnificent creatures by the thousands up until 1859 when petroleum was discovered bringing an end to whaling. Whales were a dime a dozen once again. Whales used to sleep here in Maui at Mala in lahaina by the hundreds! Dry grey backs meaning rest and relaxation. Around the 60s and 70s when they started sonar and all that crap the whales sadly disappeared. Today you go out whale watching to see a few whales when just a few decades ago it was a sight to see even from shore. These creatures heartbeat help keep this earth alive

  18. Using this to back up facts on a vid I'm starting to write. Really helpful and easy to understand. So yer

  19. An eye opener in a video, the chain of events explained very clearly. I shall share it with my students.

  20. When it comes to whaling, I think it's ok for the people up in the North Pole (etc. the Inuits) to do so because it is there part of life and know what they're doing. The Japanese, however, I cannot stand as they kill for commercial use.

  21. 🌟Japan can no longer kill sei whales and sell their meat for research purposes and has until 1st Jan to cease this practice (thanks to the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species)

  22. parents have to do what they can for their children, society have to do what they can for thriving, government have to do what they can to gets more votes, capitalist have to adopt hypocrisy in name of democracy to gain as much capital as they can….its a long story & never be ended if we don't reduce our populaion and consumption of resources!!

  23. A beautiful way of entering into the spiritual feeling of surrender. No gods or other burdensome religious appendages required.
    “Though unknown, one can tune in to the divinity in the world by feeling the wonder of nature.” (A. Parthasarathy. Gita, 2.29)

  24. READ MORE: How Whale Poop Balanced Earth's Nutrient Cycles:

  25. All of the destruction done by most of the human race was done for greed without much thought, if any, of what would lie ahead in the future. It's about living in harmony with nature, in return, it will be bountiful and plentiful.

  26. Just let me be honest, I Hate humans and very disappointed of all what humans are doing .. I prefer loving a TREE or ANIMAL then loving crueler greedy creature!!!

  27. There has to be a balance. You cannot just state that more whales is better. Where does it end? At some point, there will be too many. The best solution is sensible whaling.

  28. How bloody japan, iceland and norway can kill this beautiful animal.???
    All the animals and 🐋 were living peacefully before hoomans…..

  29. It sickens me that entire countries argue that they should be allowed to continue exploiting these beautiful creatures

  30. How do old growth forest change climate, for the answer ask Viktor Schauberger. The two demonic actions of man that started climate change were the slaughter of the whales and the destruction of the earth old growth forest.

  31. Beautiful educational documentary that should be shown on Japanese and Chinese television! Stop hunting Whales!!!

  32. 104 Japanese sickos gave this a thumbs down. Folks pressure your governments to stand up to the terrible practice of hunting whales in this day and age. Trump want's to sanction and tariff everything so he should start with Japan if they don't do whats right.

  33. I can only guess that 104 whale killers disliked this video. This is my favorite type of content…Videos that help me to understand the world. We just need about a billion more views of this one to make real change.

  34. هذه الحيتان هي السلالة القديمة الباقية في الأرض . فيها أسرار تدل على كل عالم خفي . حياته وطريقته في الحياة غامضة . مخلوق لطيف جدآ وغير عدواني . عندما ارى عيون الحوت ارى فيها حكمة وصبر وسلام . جميل جدآ أن يحترم الإنسان الطبيعة ويحافظ عليها ويحميها من لصوص التجارة وأهل الطمع . لا تهمهم الحقوق ولا يحترمون البشر .
    ربنا ارحم عبادك الصالحين . السلام عليكم

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