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article imageStudy: Whale poop vital to ocean's carbon cycle

By William Rubin     Apr 26, 2010 in Environment
Saving endangered species of whales could boost the carbon "storage space" of the Oceans, according to a recent study of whale feces by Stephen Nicol.
Past studies had shown that iron (found in whale fecal matter) is crucial to ocean plankton, who need it to grow.
"If you add soluble iron to the ocean, you get instant phytoplankton growth," said Nicol to
Nicol's team used 27 samples of feces from the near-extinct Baleen Whale. They found iron to be as much as 10 million more times present in the fecal matter than in the Antarctic Ocean.
The amount of iron in whale feces means that protecting Antarctic whales could swell populations of phytoplankton, which absorb carbon dioxide.
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