Monday , June 27 2022

Scientists prepare for "the most detailed whaling expedition" Environment


Most people get out of their way to avoid even the slightest sense of excrement, but a team of scientists is preparing to travel for seven weeks to Antarctica in order to collect the blue whale feces and examine the impact on biodiversity and climate change.

The "most detailed explanation of the whale", as the participants call it, aims to test a theory that the world's largest mammalian waste plays a more important role in maintaining ocean productivity in the south than previously thought.

"I want to show that whales are ecosystem engineers," said Lavenia Ratnarajah, a marine biogeochemist at the University of Liverpool. "Conservation campaigns usually focus on their beauty, but that does not convince everyone. If we can show how much these animals contribute to ocean functions, then it will be easier to save them.

The Blue Blue Whale in the Water.

The study will look at how blue whale feces contribute to Antarctic waters nutrition levels. Photo: Franco Banfi / Biophoto / Alamy

The whale blue number decreased by 95% at the beginning of the 20th century, but stabilized and partly recovered from the introduction of a global ban on catches in 1966. It is estimated that these are now between 10,000 and 35,000, Antarctic.

So far, most research has focused on the reproductive and migratory habits of these huge creatures that can grow up to a length of more than 30 meters and weigh 200 tonnes – more than even the largest dinosaurs. But new research will take into account how they contribute to nutritional levels in Antarctic waters.

The whale excretions act as an iron-rich fertilizer fertilizer that stimulates the growth of marine bacteria and phytoplankton – the small plants that form the basis of the Antarctic food chain and act as the largest biological source of carbon sequestration. Without the biological recycling of iron, the relatively anemic Southern Ocean would not be able to sustain as much as phytoplankton, which is the main feed for krill.

The new study will attempt to quantify the impact of fertilization and test theories that the whale is irreplaceable in the polar ecosystem because the other major predators – penguins and seals – tend to fail on ice rather than in water so they can not provide the same nutritional benefits.

The team – along with dozens of other scientists – participated in the Hobart, Tasmania, research vessel of research vessels, which is funded by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the Australian Antarctic Division. They will first install the sonar beacons to identify the location of the whales, and then, when they close, they will use the drones to fly over them and wait for an orange funnel. It may take a few days.

The faeces, which consist mainly of digested krill, float initially on the surface before it dissipates and then sinks to the ocean floor. In earlier missions, researchers have had to collect handwritten samples, but this time they are relieved to be able to make their bodies to do dirty work.

– You do not want to get into it. It's liquid and it smells awful, "said Ratnarajah, who intends to do so tweet about travel.

"Sometimes I think I have the worst job in the world and sometimes I think I have the best thing."

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