Illustration for article titled Sperm whales doo-doo keeps their carbon footprint in check

Every year, the average sperm whale poops out 50 metric tons of iron, an amount equal to 30.3 2009 Hyundai Accents. These ferrous feces nourish phytoplankton at the ocean's surface, which in turn absorb CO2 for photosynthesis.


According to a recent paper published in the journal the Proceedings of the Royal Society B by researchers at Adelaide's Flinders University, the planet's 12,000 sperm whales breathe out 200,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually but remove 400,000 metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere thanks to their plankton-fertilizing turds. In other words, the whales' droppings remove 40,000 passenger cars-worth of CO2 from the atmosphere every year.

The sperm whale's diet of squid and other deep-sea dwellers is rich in iron, an essential nutrient for plankton growth. Overwhaling removes the whales' liquid, iron-rich doody from the ecosystem, and can stifle phytoplankton. Given that phytoplankton are at the bottom of the food chain, overwhaling can also harm those species between the plankton and the whales.


This is but another reason why we should protect our majestic cetaceans — even their droppings save the planet! By contrast, your droppings bring you and your loved ones nothing but great shame.


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