Scientists set for mission whale poo!
A team of scientists are preparing to set sail for seven weeks to the Antarctic so they can collect blue whale faeces and examine its impact on...
London: A team of scientists are preparing to set sail for seven weeks to the Antarctic so they can collect blue whale faeces and examine its impact on biodiversity and climate change, the media reported. “The most detailed whale poo expedition ever,” as the participants have dubbed it, aims to test a theory that waste from the world’s biggest mammal plays a far more crucial role in maintaining the productivity of southern oceans than previously believed, the Guardian reported.
The team, along with dozens of other scientists will depart on January 19, 2019, from Hobart, Tasmania on the Research Vessel Investigator, it added. “I want to show that whales are ecosystem engineers,” Lavenia Ratnarajah, a marine biogeochemist at the University of Liverpool, was quoted as saying.
“Conservation campaigns are usually focussed on their beauty, but that doesn’t convince everyone. If we can show how much these animals contribute to the functions of the ocean, then it will be easier to save them.” Whale excrement acts as an iron-rich ocean fertiliser that stimulates the growth of marine bacteria and phytoplankton — tiny plants that form the base of the Antarctic food chain and act as the greatest biological source of carbon sequestration.
The new study will try to quantify that fertilising impact and test theories that the whale is irreplaceable in the polar ecosystem because the other major predators — penguins and seals — tend to defecate on the ice rather than in the water so they cannot provide the same nutritional benefits.