The crucial role of whales in the health of the planet and human survival – Temuco Television

The crucial role of whales in the health of the planet and human survival – Temuco Television
The crucial role of whales in the health of the planet and human survival – Temuco Television

Did you know that a whale contributes the equivalent of 30,000 trees by capturing carbon dioxide? Matías Crisóstomo, professor of Engineering in Expedition Management and Ecotourism at the Universidad San Sebastián, explains this and other interesting facts about these majestic animals.

A tree is capable of absorbing 21 kilos of CO2 throughout its life, while the whale, in general, “sequesters” around 33 tons of CO2. “That is to say, the benefit of the trees versus the whales is compared on a scale of 1 in 30,000,” explains Matías Crisóstomo, professor of Engineering in Expedition Management and Ecotourism at the Universidad San Sebastián. Sources such as the International Monetary Fund, WWF and others have tried to value the ecosystem service of whales in order to raise awareness about the protection and conservation of these species.

Curiosities about whales

  • Contribution through “carbon sequestration”: It corresponds to the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere and its storage in ecological sinks. According to Crisóstomo, a specialist in Aquatic Environments, whales act as an “umbrella”, since thanks to them many other species can live, which directly impacts the proliferation or creation of new species. “By 2050, it is projected that 9 billion people will feed on the ocean. Therefore, if we make the connection, the whale is one of the main species for our survival as humans,” he asserts.
  • Greater longevity, greater carbon absorption: The USS expert points out that the contribution that these cetaceans generate is made throughout their lives. “The longer they live, the more carbon they will sequester,” he says. Also, “with the application of new protection measures, it has been monitored that the whales are returning to their natural size.” In addition, the sea has no limits or barriers. “Whales travel 25 thousand kilometers a year during their migrations and, on the way, they take these nutrients with them and drag them to other places in the world, where there is less food or where there is simply none,” says Crisóstomo.
  • Benefit through feces: As incredible as it may sound, whale feces are rich in iron, phosphorus and nitrogen. “This generates the proliferation of phytoplankton, which in turn is responsible for producing 50% of the oxygen we breathe, and which captures nearly 40% of the CO2 in the atmosphere,” reveals the academic. Therefore, the whale allows other organisms to sequester carbon from the environment, “giving way to the appearance of new and larger fish, which feed on it, giving way to the creation of a food chain or ecosystem,” says Matías.
  • Nourishing the ecosystem even when it dies: When this aquatic mammal dies, it goes to the bottom of the sea, and this carbon decomposition also helps marine animals that live at that water level, making their survival possible, he explains.

International policy

Each country is sovereign in terms of the use of waters, therefore, protection and conservation does not depend on the international organization. Even so, there are societies such as the International Commission on Whales, in charge of preserving the species. There are also certain studies that try to track the movement of whales to avoid collisions with ships. “Probably when you see a stranded whale, it is because it has suffered an attack or a collision,” concludes the academic.

 
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