Some biologists are beginning to consider how important whale poop might be to the vibrancy of ocean life where whales live.
Whales are so big and once so numerous that their presence can be a big factor for the ocean’s wildlife. Prior to commercial whaling, the blue whale population was estimated at more than 275,000. Today there’re only about 8,000 blue whales worldwide.
Generally eating in deeper waters and pooping near the surface, apparently whales are basically fertilizing the surface waters of the ocean with each trail of scat they release. It floats. The rare aerial photo accompanying the Wired article on this subject shows the (plankton colored) scat trailing the culprit, a blue whale, and that scat trail is large!
Other mammals and birds ply the ocean surface with their scat too, but their contributions are small compared to the whales’. One adult blue whale might weigh in at over 200 tons (or 180,000 kilos). For comparison sake, the largest known dinosaur probably “only” weighed 99 tons (or 90,000 kilos). And a common seagull weighs less than a kilo. As whales slowly make a comeback, their beneficial fertilizing will be on the uptick too.
Sure on the surface, whales are big and majestic. But maybe their more interesting feature is their hidden side, as a major reconstituter and redistributor off ocean nutrients.